Boyle Middle needs extra teacher allocation to keep ag class

Published 9:03 pm Monday, May 13, 2019

The Boyle County Board of Education will consider Thursday whether to give Boyle County Middle School funding for one additional teacher position, in order to potentially save the school from ending an agriculture class.

The school is currently slated to get funding for 27 teachers through the district for next year, which won’t be enough to continue offering all the current classes, Principal Steve Karsner told board members last week. But the school will be very close to having enough students that it would qualify for funding for a 28th teacher: The school would need to add just five students over the summer.

Karsner said data from the last five years shows Boyle Middle has averaged an increase of more than 19 students each year, which would put the school firmly over the threshold for another teacher if the trend continues. But as of right now, the district’s allocation formula won’t provide the teacher automatically with the school sitting right at 600 students.

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Karsner said the school council has already made the tough decision on what class would be eliminated and “we’re fine with our decision on that.” It would be an agriculture class that gets about 135 students a semester or about 270 every year. The class also gets those students involved with the school’s FFA club.

In addition, Karsner and Superintendent Mike LaFavers said there’s a second impact of not having the teacher — the students who would have been in the ag class would instead be in other classes.

“Cutting the position not only reduces the elective opportunity, but it also drives class sizes up,” LaFavers said.

Karsner said if the school’s population does go up enough by when the next school year starts, the school could potentially try to hire a teacher at that point, but hiring new teachers is already difficult and the closer it gets to August, “it’s going to get more difficult.”

Karsner would like the board to fund the extra teacher position now so the person could be hired before school starts. The position would cost the district a total of around $50,000 for salary and benefits.

“$50,000 is a lot of money, but we are also tasked with what’s best for our students,” school board member Jesse Johnson said.

Johnson was one of the board members who agreed to put the request on this week’s regular board meeting agenda during last week’s working session. District staff are going to provide board members with more information about enrollment, including how close other schools in the district are to getting another teacher if enrollment goes up.

“If it’s a need, I would like to get out ahead of it and recognize it … before it’s too late,” Johnson said.

Also this Thursday, the board will:

• consider approving purchasing most of the furniture for the new middle school building from KDA Office Furniture at a cost of $524,605.35; and

• consider a plan to use Section 7 funding to provide a Chromebook for school work to every student entering fifth grade, then provide every student a new Chromebook four years later when they enter high school.