Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 hires 2 new teachers after enrollment spike

John Munch
John Munch

Unexpected enrollment hikes of first-graders at Monroe and Walker schools has led to the hiring of two additional teachers by Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181.

The District 181 Board approved the hiring Aug. 25 of Sara Nichols for $65,664 for the year at Monroe and of Jordan Thornquist for $49,746 for the year at Walker. The difference in salary is due to Thornquist being hired with a bachelor’s degree at Step 1 of the salary schedule and Nichols having a master’s degree and being a Step 5.

Walker initially was slated to have two first-grade classrooms, each with 25 students. Monroe was to have two first-grade classrooms of 25 students each and one with 26, said John Munch, District 181’s assistant superintendent of human resources.

The additional first-grade teachers at each school will allow for classrooms with 17 or 18 students.

“Those smaller class sizes allow students to have more contact with teachers,” Munch said. “It provides the opportunity for more individual instruction, which is something we want to provide to our students.”

District 181 had 363 kindergarten students for the 2013-14 school year; however as of Aug. 19 enrollment of first-graders was 399.

“That’s 36 new students who were not in our schools last year for kindergarten,” Munch said. “You never know for sure what causes that type of increase, but there is an element of getting students who were enrolled last year in private, full-day kindergarten.”

Because District 181 does not offer a full-day kindergarten option and some parents send their children elsewhere for that year of school, first grade typically is where the biggest increases in enrollment show up, Munch said.

“We have enrollment projections from last January, and every grade level is spot on, with the exception of first grade,” he said.

District 181 guidelines call for first-grade classrooms to have 20-26 students along with a half-time instructional aide when enrollment reaches 24 students.

Because of the added classrooms and teachers at Walker and Monroe, a previous request to hire an additional instructional aide at each school was withdrawn. However, enrollment increases at both Elm and Prospect schools have brought first-grade classes to 24 students and a recommendation to hire two instructional aides.

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