New Albertville Primary principal Dr. Jason Bodey can scarcely hire kindergarten teachers fast enough to keep up with surging enrollment numbers of kindergarten students expected to walk through the front doors for their first day of school next month.
The school anticipated 410 kindergarteners to enroll for the 2016-17 school year, which is the number of students they had last year. But by July that number had crept up to 432, and the school approved the hiring of an additional kindergarten teacher at their July 18 meeting.
Then, within the span of two weeks, Superintendent Dr. Ann-Marie Foucault said enrollment surged to 455 kindergarteners, enough to warrant yet another new kindergarten teacher. Foucault said the state aid generated by the additional students would more than cover the cost to hire the new teacher.
Albertville Primary hosted 410 kindergarteners last year and 419 the year before, so a class size of 455 is nearing the range of the largest class sizes currently working their way through upper elementary through early high school. Foucault said this year’s kindergarten class has 32 more open enrolled students than last year’s class.
So, while Bodey learns the ropes of his new job he has also been busily hiring teachers, ordering furniture for new classrooms and rearranging student schedules to fit new classes into the gym, art and library specialist classes.
“It’s a good problem to have, when you are growing,” Bodey said. “You wouldn’t want to lose 40 kids at this time of year. I’d rather gain 40.”
About Mr. Bodey
Bodey started his career in education as a middle school science teacher, which coincidentally is the same way his predecessor, Dr. Foucault, began her education career. He said his administrators in the Robbinsdale school where he worked were very supportive and encouraging of teachers advancing their education, and he decided to pursue his administrator’s license while there. He has worked mostly in middle schools, but most recently as a K-6 principal in a Hopkins elementary school.
Bodey said he wasn’t necessarily looking move away from his former school, but as a resident of Hanover, the opening of a principal position so near his own community was appealing. He also said he was intrigued by the opportunity to work with and really focus on one age group of students, and Bodey had found in his previous job that he had an affinity for working with younger age students that he hadn’t realized before.
“I’m just really excited to be here,” Bodey said. “There’s a lot to learn and a lot of things to figure out, but I’m feeling good about it. So far I’ve been really impressed with the people I work with here. I’m hoping I do as good of a job as Dr. Foucault did-I have big shoes to fill.”
Preparing Albertville Primary for another big class
State funded all-day kindergarten is only beginning its third year this fall, meaning this year’s crop of kindergarteners is by far the largest the St. Michael-Albertville district has ever had to accommodate for full days. When ½ day kindergarten was in place, one classroom could accommodate 40 or more ½ day students between the morning and afternoon sessions. To fit everyone in, the district’s curriculum department will have to move from its location at Albertville Primary to Middle School West to create space for more students, and Foucault said some small group instruction that used to take place in a classroom would now take place in an office.
Former superintendent Dr. Jim Behle had listed the capacity of Albertville Primary as 440 students, but Foucault said that was without the aforementioned changes and with a class size cap of 20 students per class. Foucault said the school could fit 484 students as the absolute maximum with these shifts and with placing 22 students per kindergarten classroom. She said that number would make STMA fairly comparable to most other area kindergarten classroom sizes. However, she said that doesn’t necessarily mean she’d like to see classes that large in kindergarten, saying she would prefer 20-21 students per class.