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The Voice

District plans to hire with population increase

An overcrowded hallway, due to the high population of students in Huntley High School. (M. Krebs/Voice)

District 158 administrators have decided to hire an additional eight teachers in order to accommodate the incoming freshman class.

The district has had a slowdown in hiring over the past three years. Teachers have been hired only to fill spots of teachers who have retired. A few positions have been moved from the elementary schools to the high school as well, due to the growth in incoming freshman classes over the past three years.

But according to Superintendent John Burkey, the time has come to hire new teachers.

“It’s really a necessity,” said Burkey.

The new positions have come this year because district finances now look better for next year than they have in the past.

In the last three years, the high school has seen at least 400 additional students, and according to Burkey, “we have in no way added enough teachers to keep up.”

The number of new positions were determined by looking at the enrollment numbers from the last two years and trying to keep class sizes to what they looked like last year, within what the district can afford.

At the high school, there are 15 teachers this year who teach on an overload schedule. Normally at Huntley, a teacher will have five classes, a prep period, a lunch period, and a supervision period. These overloaded teachers do not have a supervision period and instead teach a sixth class.

“By having the supervision period for those 15 teachers, they will better be able to do a number of things, including offering academic interventions for students,” said Dave Johnson, principal.

In addition to the eight new teaching positions, a new counselor position has been authorized for the high school.

Right now, each counselor, on average, has 436 students. The actual caseloads vary across counselor depending on whether the counselor specializes or not. Counseling is an area where students need individual attention, and with the addition of approximately 120 more students next year than will be graduating, this may be difficult for the counselors to keep up.

“That really is a detriment to students,” said Burkey.

With an additional counselor next year, each counselor will have on average 385 students to manage.

“Any time you go down in numbers, there’s more of an opportunity to see students one-on-one or in small groups,” said counselor Pat Olson-McGee.

The eight new positions will be determined by course enrollment for the upcoming school year in addition to two to three new positions in the middle school to accommodate growth in Heineman and Marlowe Middle School enrollment.

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