The Barrington Area School District Unit 220 approved a decision by new Superintendent Brian Harris to hire four new teachers for additional class sections at the elementary level in the district.
The class size issue has been discussed at school board meetings for the past several months, and the discussion between parents and the school board hasn't always been pleasant. But Tuesday night, the board's decision to hire new teachers prompted grateful applause from the parents who once again filled nearly every available seat at the meeting.
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"Thank you, thank you," Keely Hegner, a parent of three students attending Countryside Elementary School, said while clapping along with other parents. Hegner has attended nearly every meeting concerning class size. She said after the meeting that she feels the board made an excellent decision.
"I think our board goes above and beyond." Hegner said. "I think they listen to the needs of the community and want to put those needs into action."
Mike Shackleton, whose children also attend Countryside, initially expressed his concern to the board during the section of the meeting for public comment about their use of district resources. After the announcement was made that they'd decided to hire more teachers, Shackleton said he was pleased with the board's choice.
"I've been to every one of these meetings," Shackleton said. "This makes you feel like they've been listening. Most importantly the kids are getting what is best for them."
As the meeting wound down several other parents who had made comments critical of the board expressed their gratitude for the board's decision.
One parent, Mike Galvan, whose children attend North Barrington Elementary School, kept his final comment brief.
"Thanks," Galvan said.
Board member Christopher Geier said he appreciated that parents had taken the time to come to the board meetings to advocate for their kids.
"I appreciate the people doing that, but this room could be empty and we're still going to do the work we were elected to do," Geier said.
Board member Wendy Farley said the plan to hire additional teachers further reduced the amount of money the district had as a cushion, but that it was the right move to make.
"Our goal is to have as small a class size as possible but also remain financially prudent," Farley said.
The district will add a first grade class section at Grove Elementary School, a second and a fourth grade section at Countryside and a third grade class section at Roslyn Road Elementary School.
In addition, the board authorized Harris to hire two additional teachers without needing to consult the board should there be a sudden spike in enrollment.
The board will meet next on Aug. 12. The board asked Harris to give an update on enrollment numbers at that meeting.