LAKE PLACID - Parents are praising the Lake Placid Central School board and Superintendent Roger Catania's recent decision to hire an extra teacher for third grade, which will lower class sizes.
The district had originally only budgeted two teachers in the third grade for the upcoming school year, compared with three last year. On Tuesday, July 15, Catania said hiring two teachers for third grade, instead of just one, was very difficult with the budget situation.
The classroom size in the third grade would have been 25 students per class if the board had not hired the extra teacher.
Darcy Norfolk was pleased with the change. She is one of the parents who asked the board to re-examine its decision in June. Her son Lincoln, 7, will enter third grade in the fall.
"It was a relief," Norfolk said of the hirings. "They were able to operate within the limited budget, and they made it work."
Catania addressed third-grade classroom size concerns publicly in June, when he gave an overview of the budget process with a group of about a dozen parents. He said he recognized lower classes sizes were ideal and would work to find a solution.
Norfolk said she respects Catania's professionalism and communication in dealing with the concerns of the parents throughout the process. She expects "it's going to be a strong year for this school" because of the decision.
Tracy Smith was another parent who attended the meeting in June.
"My first reaction was that we were thrilled that the board took our concerns seriously and made changes based on the parents," Smith said. "I'm glad it wasn't at the detriment of other classes. There was some concern if they increased teacher staff in third grade it would reduce (a teacher) in second grade."
Smith added she was "very happy" with the teachers hired for the positions: Jenny Winch and Melissa Latella. The other third-grade teacher is Patricia Damp. Also hired Tuesday were Denja Wiebrecht for second grade, Jason Leon for fifth grade and Whitney Emery as a substitute.
Another parent, Desiree Skutt, emailed the newspaper saying how thankful she was for the decision.
"I am so relieved that the board of education made it work somehow to have third-grade classes," Skutt wrote. "We had concerns and they really listened and made it happen. I am thankful we have Dr. Catania leading our district - he truly puts the children's needs first."
There are an estimated 50 children in next year's third grade. Parents described the class as high energy, mostly male and having some students with individual education plans.