Herricks to add two kindergarten teachers

Herricks to add two kindergarten teachers

The Herricks Board of Education announced Thursday that the school would be hiring kindergarten teachers at the Center Street and Searingtown schools to reduce class sizes at both. 

“We’re adding a teacher at each school,” Herricks school board President Jim Gounaris said at the school board’s regularly scheduled meeting.

Gounaris said the hiring of the teachers will allow each school to have four kindergarten classes and lower the number of students in each kindergarten class from 26 students to 19 students.

“We’re trying to do it right away. We need to find people with the right qualifications,” Gounaris said after the meeting.

He said the school district will give first consideration to elementary school teachers laid off from positions in the Herricks district during the past three years. Herricks eliminated 63 teaching positions during that time.

The board decided to hire two teachers for additional first and second grade classes at the Center Street School earlier this summer to maintain lower class sizes in the face of increased enrollment there. One class was added in each grade at Center Street.

The school board had committed to spending $422,000 the district received in an unexpected increase in state aid to hire at least four new teachers. 

The increase, said Helen Costigan, Herricks assistant superintendent for business, brought state aid to the district  $9,108,411 in the 2014-15 school.

District residents publicly expressed concerns last fall about growing class sizes in kindergarten and other grades at the three Herricks elementary schools. 

Gounaris said there is money in the budget to hire additional teachers if necessary but he added he did not foresee there being a need to do so.

Under terms of the new four-year contract with the Herricks Teachers Association the school board approved in July, a new teacher with a bachelors degree will be paid an annual salary of $58,400.

Helen Costigan, Herricks assistant superintendent for business, has said the average annual salary for the 346 teachers in the Herricks district is currently $125,000.

At Thursday night’s meeting, Gounaris said the board has scheduled a special hour-long meeting on Sept. 29 for representatives of  Woodbury-based District Wise Search Consultants to solicit input from district residents “on what they’d like to see in the next [school district] superintendent.” 

Herricks Superintendent of Schools John Bierwirth and Herricks High School principal Jane Modoono both announced plans in May to retire in June 2015. Herricks Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Deirdre Hayes announced plans at the same time to retire at the end of December.

The board approved a $23,500 contract in June for District Wise to assist the board in finding a new superintendent and assistant superintendent for instruction for the district.

Gounaris said last Thursday Bierwirth is conducting a separate search for a new principal at Herricks High School. 

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