Massena Central School Board of Education approves two new teacher assistant positions | Education | #Education

MASSENA — The Massena Central School Board of Education has authorized the creation of two teacher assistant positions, one at Madison Elementary School to assist with reading intervention and one at the high school to assist with math intervention.

Superintendent Patrick Brady said they had been sharing a reading teacher at 60% full-time equivalent between Madison Elementary and Trinity Catholic School through the St. Lawrence-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services. The reading teacher provides 3.5 hours of service each day for reading intervention at Madison Elementary.

“Trinity has informed us that they’re not going to have the same service next year,” he said.

Mr. Brady said they needed to evaluate whether maintaining the service through BOCES was effective going forward or if they should look at other options. He received a request from Curriculum Director Stephanie Allen and Principal Danielle Chapman to look at hiring a full-time teacher assistant to provide reading and/or math intervention rather than using the BOCES service.

“We’ve analyzed the cost to continue the same service, a valued service, and our recommendation is that we hire our own teacher assistant that can work under one of our reading teachers at Madison,” he said.

He said that would provide flexibility in the schedule.

“This will expand the time we have this support and create flexibility for the use of our own employee. We’ll have somebody there full-time rather than part-time. I think it’s a good change for the district,” Mr. Brady said.

That position will be created for the 2021-22 school year.

“There is the potential for an increase in cost, but the overall benefit to our students justifies in our option the added expense,” he said.

The teacher assistant position at the high school would be for this school year, he said. Mr. Brady said he and Principal Alan Oliver have had several discussions this year about increasing services for students who have difficulty meeting standards in English Language Arts and math.

“This becomes particularly important going forward as we see students struggling with online learning during the pandemic. Currently, we have one ELA and one math teacher that provide intervention, meaning they help students at risk of not meeting the standards in ELA and math above and beyond what the classroom teacher provides,” he said.

He said money was available and could be allocated for this year under a School Improvement Grant that the district received. They also anticipate receiving additional funding in their proposed 2021-22 budget because of federal stimulus money that will be going to school districts.

“Our goal would be to continue this work into the following school year,” Mr. Brady said.

Although one teacher each currently provides intervention for ELA and math, he said Mr. Oliver has requested the addition of a teacher assistant for math intervention this year.

“Alan is also preparing a plan to add ELA intervention support in 2021-22 using funding already in the school budget,” he said.

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