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School board approves extra fifth grade teacher due to influx of new students

— After agreeing in July to add an extra third grade teacher at Burton Street Elementary School due to parent and teacher concern over higher-than-expected class sizes in the coming school year, the Cazenovia Board of Education last week unanimously agreed to add another fifth grade teacher as well — and for the same reason.

The action will lower fifth grade class sizes by about five students per class, but it also means that some fifth graders who already received their homeroom assignments will have to be switched to a different class.

As the summer has come to a close, the district has found itself receiving an unusually high number of new students entering the district in grades three and five, which has in turn raised concerns over student-to-teacher ratios in those grades. At the school board’s Aug. 26 meeting, the fifth grade situation was raised as especially concerning because two classes have 27 students and two have 26 — whereas last year classes averaged about 22 students.

This unexpected influx is both “good and bad,” said district Superintendent Bob Dubik — on the one hand it helps check what has been a steadily declining district enrollment, but on the other hand it has necessitated the last-minute hiring of additional teachers that were not really budgeted for this year.

“A different pattern has developed this year … it’s really kind of alarming in a way,” Dubik said. “It certainly wasn’t something we anticipated.”

This year’s fifth grade class ended the 2012-13 year with a total of 98 students. In the past three weeks, eight new fifth grade students have entered the district, which brings the total class population up to 106. These new students have come from out of district, out of state, from private schools and from home school, Dubik said.

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