Melissa Withrow and Mark Knudson stand in what used to be the computer lab at Greywolf Elementary School that now serves as one of two new classrooms after more class sections were added at the first- and third-grade levels. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Melissa Withrow and Mark Knudson stand in what used to be the computer lab at Greywolf Elementary School that now serves as one of two new classrooms after more class sections were added at the first- and third-grade levels. (Erin Hawkins/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Greywolf overcrowding alleviated with additional teachers, sections

SEQUIM — Sequim School District and Greywolf Elementary School have reached a resolution of the overcrowding at first- and third-grade levels.

School officials said they added one new teacher and class section at the first-grade and third-grade levels at Greywolf Elementary School in late October.

At the beginning of the school year, enrollment totals for first grade at Greywolf were 107 students, four class sections and an average of almost 27 students per class. Third-grade enrollment totals amounted to 90 students, three class sections and an average of 30 students per class.

Donna Hudson, Greywolf Elementary School principal, said the school selected students to move to the new class sections by a lottery.

From the lottery, the school pulled five to six students out of every first-grade classroom and seven or eight students out of all third-grade classrooms. She said parents were notified if their children were selected to be in new class sections.

Mark Knudson was brought over from Sequim High School to teach third grade and Melissa Withrow was taken from Sequim Middle School to teach first grade.

“What we finally did was talk with the high school and they were able to make accommodations to send a teacher over who has an elementary certificate and a strong background in science and math,” Gary Neal, Sequim schools superintendent, said.

He said the district then moved a teacher from Sequim Middle School who is certificated and could take over some of the responsibilities.

Hudson said with the two new additions, there are five sections in first grade with about 21-22 students in each class and four sections in third grade with 23 students in every class.

“It’s so much more comfortable for the kids,” Hudson said.

She said students were doing the best they could in large class sizes but since the opening of more class sections there has been more teacher help, classrooms are calmer and it’s a better situation for students.

Hudson said she wants to thank Sequim High School Principal Shawn Langston and Sequim Middle School Principal Vince Riccobene for allowing the change to happen.

“The solution for us was a big cut for them,” she said.

“We’re very thankful to have these teachers and they were very gracious in that process.”

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Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at ehawkins@sequimgazette.com.

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