Barrington District 220 votes to hire 10 teachers
With the district asking for more teachers in the coming school year, the Barrington Unit District 220 board on Tuesday approved a total of 10 new teachers to fill gaps in some class sizes and reviving some programs hurt during past budget cuts.
The board approved eight positions at its last meeting in June and agreed to reconsider the total on Tuesday. Administrators had said another 3.4 teachers would be optimal to reinstate programs that had been cut during recent years of budget cutting. They also argued that higher academic standards will mean more students will need extra help.
However, the majority compromised on two additional teachers, bringing the total to 10 new teachers.
“This feels a lot better than in previous years,” said Assistant Superintendent for Education Programming and Assessment Cindy Kaskowsiak, saying the staff could work with the compromise increase, rather than another staff cut.
Board member Richard Burkhart compared the district’s budget to a balloon that had deflated in recent years but was re-inflating to its former size.
Board member Tim Hull argued for the full 3.4 staff positions. Board member Joseph Ruffalo worried the district could get “over extended” with big financial decisions still ahead.
In the end, Burkhart fell in with the majority, including Nicholas Sauer, Sandra Bradford and Ruffalo.
In other board news, the board was split on whether to hire an outside writing assessment firm to judge district students on a systematic basis, on their writing. The cost of the program is estimated at $30,000.
Board members Joe Ruffalo said he is a cynic of many such tests but “having some data” is better than “no data,” on students writing. He also noted the total cost amounted to just about $3.40 per student.
Burkhart asked if the program could be done “in-house” by district teachers and if results could be linked to teacher compensation.
“We really have to stay focused on being good stewards of finances on this,” Burkhart said.
Jaskowsiak said assessment by district teachers would be “very labor intensive” but both alternatives could be considered next year, but not the current academic year.
Board members Burkhart and Sauer were the only two to express opposition and the program is going forward.
In more news, the Enrollment Monitoring Committee was asked to reconsider the district’s middle school boundaries but the board decided to be cautious, with a majority of the members indicating they want to “wait” on any redistricting decision.
The district redrew its middle school boundaries five years ago and some worried about making shifting demographic trends due to the economy and other factors. Others worried that the state legislature’s transportation funding may change in the coming years and demand another redistricting.