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Superintendent: Concerns expressed by PTA premature

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
April 25, 2002
Meridian schools superintendent Janet McLin said Wednesday that concerns are premature over the reassignment of teaching positions within the school district.
McLin said she hasn't determined the number of teachers who will staff each school because next year's budget has not been set. The school board must approve the budget before July 1.
PTA members at Poplar Springs Elementary School said Tuesday that they are worried about how students will be affected by having two teaching positions transferred to other schools.
Such a move, they said, would increase the student-teacher ratio at Poplar Springs.
The two teaching positions are funded through a federal class-size reduction grant.
McLin said two teaching positions at Poplar Springs and one at Crestwood elementary schools will be reassigned to other schools to fill the intent of a law President Bush signed in January.
McLin said the law seeks to place teachers funded through class-size reduction grants in schools where the students are from low-income families.
Those schools are determined by the percentage of students who have low standardized test scores and also qualify for free and reduced-priced lunches.
The school district has 12 teachers currently funded by the class-size reduction grant. Next year, McLin said, the school district will have five more teachers bringing the total to 17.
She said they will all be placed in kindergarten through second-grade classes at Witherspoon, West End and Oakland Heights elementary schools.
Even though the federal law doesn't require placing the teachers in those schools, McLin said, that is the legislation's intent and the state Department of Education's recommendation.
Several parents and teachers at the Poplar Springs PTA meeting said they believe their school is being "punished" for succeeding because Poplar Springs students score high on standardized tests.
McLin said that's not the case.
If current guidelines had been in place two years ago when the district first acquired class-size reduction teachers, she said, none would have gone to Poplar Springs.