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School district sets deadline

Officials to decide whether 2nd Montessori class will happen

Whether there will be an upper-elementary Montessori class in Steamboat Springs next year remains undecided.

The Steamboat Springs School District is having trouble finding a qualified teacher for the position. The district has given itself a July 1 deadline to decide whether the program will happen.

“I’m still hopeful it’s going to work out,” Superintendent Donna Howell said.

The position has been offered to one teacher, but the school district is waiting to hear whether she will accept it. Another candidate was interviewed Tuesday.

Training for upper-elementary Montessori teachers began this week, but Howell said that a teacher could begin the training a little late, if necessary.

If a qualified upper-elementary Montessori teacher cannot be hired in time, the district will offer one first- through third-grade Montessori class. With a second teacher, the program would include two classes, one for first- and second-graders and one for third- through fifth-graders.

Whether the upper-elementary Montessori program is offered could affect class sizes at elementary schools.

Estimates of class sizes still are changing every day, principals at both elementary schools said. Students move into and out of the district throughout the summer.

“There are many moving parts at this point and time, and we have to get all of that information before we make a final decision,” Howell said.

Initial estimates of class sizes in some grades at Strawberry Park Elementary School were not accurate, Howell said.

Retired Principal John De–Vincentis had accepted all out-of-district students who asked to be at the elementary school, Howell said. Those decisions usually are not made until late June and are based on whether there is space.

Another look at the numbers, Howell said, showed there was not space to accept all those students.

No out-of-district kindergarten students were accepted, though they were placed on a waiting list. Some students in other grades, especially first grade, were accepted, Howell said.

Parents of out-of-district students were notified about the mistake and given the final determination last week about whether their children would be accepted at the school.

After revisiting those numbers, the three kindergarten classes at Strawberry Park have about 19 students each, Howell said. At Soda Creek Elementary School, there are 16 or 17 students in each of four classes, she said. If new kindergarten students move into the district, they would be placed at Soda Creek.

One concern has been fifth-grade classes with 23 or 24 students at Strawberry Park Elementary School. Howell said the district continues to watch those classes and will make changes as necessary.

The School district aims for one classroom teacher for every 19 students at the elementary schools. At the middle and high schools, there is one staff person, including teachers, for every 18 students. Principals then determine how to use teachers and arrange classes.

— To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail scunningham@steamboatpilot.com