District 26 adds first-grade teacher at Deer Path Elementary

CARY – With students set to return to the classroom in District 26 next week, officials have found a need for one more teacher at Deer Path Elementary School.

The District 26 school board on Monday approved adding a first-grade teacher to Deer Path to bring the total amount of first-grade sections in the building to four.

The cost of the additional teacher is expected to be $46,000. Money for the additional teacher will come from savings in health insurance coverage and the lower-than-expected cost of hiring new staff members, Superintendent Brian Coleman wrote in a memo to the school board.

This is the second first-grade teacher District 26 has added to Deer Path for this school year.

In May, the school board approved an additional first-grade teacher to Deer Path to help bring projected class sizes down.

The number of students registered for first grade at Deer Path now stands at 90. Adding a fourth section brings the average class size to 22.5 students.

The original staffing plan had the school expecting 62 first-grade students at Deer Path.

"We've had an exceptionally large number of students coming into the district this year," Deer Path Principal Thom Gippert said.

More parents are registering their students to go to class in District 26 than originally anticipated, according to district officials.

The district had a net gain of 36 students last week. At the same point last year, there was a net loss of 24 students.

Predicting the number of students in kindergarten and first grade is difficult as some parents will enroll their child in a private school for full-day kindergarten and in a public school for first grade. District 26 offers a limited amount of full-day kindergarten slots. Most of the slots in the district are for half-day kindergarten.

The increase in students also comes as the district brings back art and music for this school year.

"This could indicate a new trend as parents see we're bringing back specials, we're bringing back teachers, we're bringing back art," school board member Chris Christensen said.

Christensen added that more houses in the area are selling, and young families are moving in.

Coleman said the district did anticipate more students coming in, but district officials weren't sure how many.

"It's not uncommon for people to register late," Coleman said. "I think when August rolls around, people start thinking about school and realize they need to register. We weren't anticipating this many people registering this late."

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