School Board Leaves Class Size Up To The Schools

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There will be no additional fourth-grade teacher hired at Julia Randall Elementary School to eliminate an overcrowding situation that has existed since school opened in late July.

The Payson school board decided at a Sept. 14 special meeting that the overcrowding was a school site issue and should be handled at that level with no board interference.

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PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels

According to PUSD Superintendent Herb Weissenfels, no changes in class size or structure will probably be made by the first-year JRE principal Peggy Miles.

Miles did not wish to comment on the issue.

Weissenfels defended the non-action.

"It will be less disruptive to leave it as it is. From the reports I'm getting, everything is going along very well."

The issue of overcrowding had been brought to school officials' attention by Linda Jackson and Marlene Armstrong who both have children in fourth grade at JRE. Since school opened, the two have contended that adding a fourth-grade teacher was the best solution to relieve the overcrowded classrooms.

Originally, Jackson and Armstrong were told there was no money in the budget to hire another teacher at JRE.

At Tuesday's special meeting, Jackson and Armstrong submitted a plan that would free up more than $38,000 for hiring a new teacher. The two contended the money could come from a budget that was to be used for an alternative school at Rim Country Middle School.

Jackson and Armstrong pointed out that the teachers for the RCMS alternative program had not yet been hired and some of the budgeted money could be used for an additional fourth-grade teacher.

Although the school board denied the request for another teacher, calling it an issue to be solved at the school, Armstrong praised the way the controversy was handled.

"They listened to every question and were responsive and honest with us," she said. "Herb's staff was also very pleasant through this."

Armstrong said she was disappointed that the almost two-month long quest to have a new teacher hired was not successful, but she would live with the board's decision.

Jackson and Armstrong first took their concerns to a school board meeting last month. Before that, they met face-to-face with Weissenfels and the district's business manager, Bobette Sylvester. The solutions originally offered by Weissenfels and Sylvester were not satisfactory, Armstrong and Jackson said at the time.

The administrators' solutions included hiring a full-time Title One aide to assist in all three classrooms.

"We've done that," Weissenfels said.

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