The Lyme-Old Lyme school district has undergone a sudden growth spurt. After three teachers faced pink slips earlier this year due to declining enrollment, the elementary schools rather unexpectedly found themselves with more students than anyone anticipated.
Eighty-eight students are fully registered to begin third grade at Center School in Old Lyme, and four more could be on the way. Lyme Consolidated School, meanwhile, is expecting 38 students to start third grade in the fall.
“We often have kids move into the district but to have them all concentrated in the same grade is an anomaly,” said Regional School District 18 Board of Education member Allison Hine, who chairs the Enrollment Committee. “This increase wasn’t anticipated.”
It also posed a problem because the increased enrollment puts student/teacher ratio above the guidelines set by the district. The guidelines call for 18 to 20 students per teacher in third grade. The current enrollment for Center School would make for 22 students per teacher in all four classes, 23 if the other four students show up.
To address the issue, Hine’s committee unanimously recommended that the Board of Education approve the hiring of an additional teacher for Center School this year. That would allow the school to create five third-grade classes, each with 18 students. School’s student/teacher ratio remains within the guidelines, with two classes of 19 third-graders in the fall.
Because the district expects to pay less for insurance than it anticipated this year, board members agreed there ought to be enough money to cover the cost of an extra teacher. Hine also noted that Center School would probably reshuffle teachers when the large third-grade class advanced to the next grade.
There are currently 71 students in second grade at Center School, Hine said, and the guidelines allow for 20 to 22 students per teacher in fifth grade.
After hearing Hine's pitch, the Board of Education voted unanimously in favor of adding an extra teacher for Center School. The position will be offered to one of the teachers who was laid off earlier this year.
There are going to be yet more new faces at Old Lyme and Lyme schools when classes start again. The board also announced the hiring of one English teacher, with another one likely to be hired soon, to fill two vacancies at the High School. The high school will also have a new music teacher and a Spanish teacher has been hired to serve both Lyme and Old Lyme elementary schools.
The Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education also welcomed someone new to the table at its July 10 meeting: School Superintendent Ian Neviaser.
Although he’s only been on the job a week, Neviaser comes to the district with a wealth of experience. Neviaser began his career as a social studies teacher in New Haven in 1997, became assistant vice principal of Guilford High School in 2004, and became principal of Valley Regional High School in Deep River in 2008.
Neviaser comes to Regional School District 18 after serving as assistant superintendent of School District Region 4 (Essex, Chester, and Deep River).
“I’m looking forward to a wonderful year,” he said.