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District 518 to add staff in response to WALA closure

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education Worthington, 56187
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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

8:43 p.m. update

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Worthington ISD 518 adds employees to prepare for influx of WALA students

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington District 518 will add 12 full-time employees in response to the closure of Worthington Area Language Academy.

During a special meeting Wednesday morning, the school board voted unanimously to add four new teachers and five paraprofessionals at Prairie Elementary; and to add two new teachers, a paraprofessional and a part-time interpreter/translator at Worthington Middle School.

Prairie administrators calculated next year's staffing needs based on the presumption that 75 percent of current WALA students would continue their studies in District 518 next year; if all 97 potential students attend Prairie, enrollment will jump from 954 to 1,051 at the school.

New teachers will be added in kindergarten and grades one, two and four. About half of WALA's current kindergarten class will need to repeat kindergarten -- the district requires students be 5 years old by Sept. 1 to enter kindergarten, and WALA enrolled 14 4-year-olds in 2009-2010.

If 73 students enroll at the school as estimated, the district will see $438,000 in increased revenue from the state, while total expenses for new staff will run about $365,000.

"Eighty kids is a break-even for all the hiring," added Superintendent John Landgaard. "And that's with no translator. If we get 100 (students), the net would cover the translator costs."

At the middle school, a maximum 15 students could be added to grades five and six, but class sizes could eventually be pushed above 27 students. Principal Jeff Luke suggested adding a teacher at both grade levels, but some board members were concerned about adding staff in the face of the state's looming budget deficit.

"My concern is if we start adding (teachers) out there and we get a 5 percent reduction from the state, we'd have to look first at cutting teachers," said member Linden Olson.

"I would tend to ramp up early and be prepared instead of always scrambling from behind," said member Steve Schnieder. "We can get the teacher acclimated one year ahead of time, and then if they have a bigger class size later on, they'll be more prepared."

In other business, the board on Wednesday:

- Accepted the resignation of Worthington High School Assistant Principal Keith Fleming, who has accepted a position as principal in the Southland School District in southeastern Minnesota.

- Approved the district's share of tax abatement, about $20,000, for Astrup Drug Inc. to assist with redevelopment costs for a downtown Sterling Drug location.

- Approved an out-of-state travel request for Area Learning Center teacher Jerusha Lowe to attend a June alternative school conference in Wyoming.

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington District 518 will add 12 full-time employees in response to the closure of Worthington Area Language Academy.

During a special meeting Wednesday morning, the school board voted unanimously to add four new teachers and five paraprofessionals at Prairie Elementary; and to add two new teachers, a paraprofessional and a part-time interpreter/translator at Worthington Middle School.

Prairie administrators calculated next year's staffing needs based on the presumption that 75 percent of current WALA students would continue their studies in District 518 next year; if all 97 potential students attend Prairie, enrollment will jump from 954 to 1,051 at the school.

New teachers will be added in kindergarten and grades one, two and four. About half of WALA's current kindergarten class will need to repeat kindergarten -- the district requires students be five years old by Sept. 1 to enter kindergarten, and WALA enrolled 14 4-year-olds in 2009-2010.

For more information, read tomorrow's Daily Globe.

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