Officials for the Hopkinton Public Schools went before the School Committee once again for approval of additional staff due to the continually increasing enrollment in the district.
Hopkinton High School principal Evan Bishop presented the request for bringing back the campus aide position and new teachers for the history, math and science departments during the Oct. 4 School Committee meeting.
“These increases are both operational and based on enrollment increases that affect our students and our staff,” said Bishop.
The requested full-time campus aide position would be stationed at the front of the building/security booth to monitor visitors. The request is necessary, said Bishop, after their current campus aide has been spending half of their day in the Guidance Department due to a department secretary position being cut last year.
“At a school of almost 1,200 students, it is rare to have only one support staff member for a Guidance Department,” he said. “It was a difficult cut for us.”
Bishop said that although the campus aide is moved into the Guidance Department half of the day, that doesn’t mean that the security booth has been left unmanned. Rotating staff secretaries from the administration office and even parent volunteers have been filling that role when necessary.
“What we are finding is we have a revolving door of people working the front booth – we have too many moving parts,” he said. “It is critical to have a consistent person at the security booth.”
The high school is also in need of increased staff in a few departments due to the spike in enrollment in the last six months alone.
“We had 72 new students transfer in to the high school and 26 transferred out, leaving a net of 46 students that were not planned for during the budget season,” said Bishop.
That, coupled with the fact that they had to cut staffing by 1.6 positions last year, has left larger than normal class sizes in a number of areas. Current HHS enrollment is 1,188, the largest high school enrollment the district has ever seen.
In the History Department, class averages are approximately 27 students, with two classes over 30 students. History teachers are also managing a caseload of 123 students on average. In the Math Department, class averages are running from 25 to 30 students, and in the Science Department, all of the senior level college prep classes are over 25 students.
“Those numbers are really high,” said Bishop. “I have been receiving numerous calls and emails from parents with concerns about class sizes.”
Bishop requested one FTE (full-time equivalent) history teacher, a .4 FTE math teacher, and a .2 FTE science teacher to start in January at the beginning of the new semester. These additions will bring class sizes down to a more manageable level, according to Bishop.
Before unanimously approving the request, the School Committee asked where the funding would come from for the approximate $82,000 in salaries.
Director of Finance Susan Rothermich responded that the money would come mainly from the prepayment of transportation charges for this year as well as possible lane change increases that did not come to fruition.
This is not the first time that the School Committee has had to approve additional staffing due to the unprecedented enrollment increase in Hopkinton. Since the beginning of the school year the School Committee has approved the hiring of four additional full-time paraprofessionals for Marathon Elementary, two additional teachers at Hopkinton Middle School, and two new English Language Development (ELD) teaching positions for the district.