Hitch School deals with overcrowding


by BRIAN NADIG

Hitch School could be operating at more than 130 percent of its capacity this fall as the school continues to experience significant enrollment gains.

As of Aug. 20, enrollment was at 601, which includes 15 students who will be at the school a short time each week for testing or a specialized service. Last year’s enrollment was 555, which was about 200 higher than it was 10 years ago.

Hitch principal Debby Reese said last week that she expects more students to register and that some could transfer out of the school. "There is a lot of change that goes in until the fifth, sixth, seventh day of school," Reese said.

The school requested a mobile classroom unit for this school year but was turned down, Reese said. "The maximum number that the building was built for in 1925 was 450," she said. "The ideal enrollment is 420. No one ever meant for the building to go to capacity."

The space crunch is not expected to improve any time soon because several of the lower grades have the most students, including 74 kindergarten students who will be taught in two full-size classrooms and one half-size classroom, Reese said. Several classes have 32 or 33 students in them, she said.

The crowded conditions have forced the school to use hallways for instructional space and to convert a bathroom into a resource room, Reese said. Despite those problems, the school continues to show steady growth on the state’s academic performance standards, she said.

Also at Hitch, a new uniform policy is being implemented this fall. The policy requires students to wear a polo-style shirt of any color with no emblems or writing and dark blue, black or khaki standard uniform pants or skirts.

Reese said that the uniform policy was adopted because of instances of "very inappropriate clothing" and issues of certain styles of clothes becoming status symbols at the school. "It was distracting to the educational process," she said.

Reese said that many parents have expressed support for the uniform policy. Blue jeans and shirts with the school logo will be allowed on Fridays.

The school will contact parents of students who violate the uniform code, and eventually violators could be subject to a detention or a community service assignment, Reese said.


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