Gateway considers portables |

Gateway considers portables

Gateway School District officials have balked at using portable classrooms to alleviate overcrowding at Moss Side Elementary School — until now.

With class sizes continuing to grow, district officials now believe they have to explore all options.

“We’re looking at using portable classrooms,” school board President Bob Gale said.

That is welcome news to Madeline Havrilla, a parent who has been asking the district to consider portable classrooms for years. She said students have suffered because art and music are taught in makeshift learning environments.

“I’m glad that (the district) is looking at portables,” she said. “We need something done now. This board needs to focus on what’s best for the students.”

Parents, including parent-teacher organization president Lori DiLucente, have been asking the district to address the problem that has in the past forced some teachers to hold classes in hallways. Other teachers had to keep art and music supplies on a cart they rolled from class to class, which limited their ability to teach.

The district made some changes over the summer, and school officials thought they had remedied the problem: additional teacher aides were hired to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio; art finally got its own room; and classes were realigned.

At the beginning of the school year, Superintendent Richard Domencic said he and his staff plan to present redistricting recommendations to the school board as a way to address overcrowding and to try to avoid future problems. He set a goal of making the recommendations by February.

But after the first week of school, the district again faced an overcrowding problem. Classes were approaching the district’s 24-student maximum. Art went back to the cart, and classes were shifted to the library.

Parent Christine Miller, who volunteers at the school, said having art classes in the library limits art activities and disrupts those using the library for other things or limits the amount of time other students can use it.

“Our students are not able to use the library for research throughout the day,” she said.

Last week, the school board hired teacher Michael Jack to create a fourth first-grade class and keep class sizes below 24 students.

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