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Thinking outside the box at MW


Mary Welsh Elementary will implement an unusual strategy next year to conserve spending.

As populations of full-time and migrant students fluctuate within grade levels each year at Mary Welsh, the Williamsburg School Board adjusts the number of sections per grade prior to the start of school. However, only second grade will add one more section this year, while the fourth and sixth grades will feature an additional section only during math and reading lessons.

Mary Welsh Principal Dave Widmer suggested the strategy to the school board at a meeting held June 9. Widmer said he believed the fourth and sixth grade levels could accommodate three sections of approximately 25 to 28 students per section (six to nine students more than the sections of other grade levels) if the grades were broken into smaller learning groups during math and reading lessons. So, instead of hiring two additional teachers to expand both grades from three to four sections, the district would hire one teacher to teach reading and math to the fourth graders in the morning and to the sixth graders in the afternoon.

Widmer noted the decision to share a teacher between grades would keep staff numbers the same, saving the district from paying one or more additional salaries at Mary Welsh next year.

“I would rather have four sections of both, but financially where we are, it would seem to be the responsible thing to do,” he said.

Board member Mark Armstrong expressed his approval of the strategy.

“In desperate times, you have to be creative,” he said.

The board gave its verbal consent to implement Widmer’s suggestion for the 2010-11 school year. The administration projects grade levels to change as follows: third grade to go from four sections to three, fourth grade to decrease from four to three and a half sections, sixth grade to increase from three and a half and second grade to increase from three to four sections.


The board accepted the resignations of Ann Syversen Bullis as Spanish teacher, Ryan Hoagland as drumline instructor, Kate Richey as a high school English teacher and Nicole Vespa as a high school English teacher and drama and speech instructor.

New hires include John B.C. Rost as a high school math teacher and Amy Roberts as a Spanish teacher.


The board raised the prices of four annual school fees for the 2010-11 school year. Registration for K-6 students will increase from $35 to $40, driver’s ed costs will increase from $310 to $315, lunch for students in grades 7-12 will raise from $2.10 to $2.15 per meal and the cost for a yearly milk/juice ticket will go from $35 to $40.

• The migrant education program received an additional $80,000 in government funding.

• The board approved putting the WHS greenhouse up for sale.

 • The board approved setting Dr. Montz’s salary at 126,600, an increase of $3,100.


UPDATED June 15, 2010 12:23 PM

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