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Hall can hire more teachers thanks to enrollment increase
New hires will help small groups focus on reading and math
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An additional 109 students enrolled in Hall County schools this year means the school board can use some of its Title I funding to hire additional faculty.

"Based on the fact that our numbers look stable, we'll be able to add support teachers in reading and math," Superintendent Will Schofield said. He said the hires would occur in the next few weeks.

Enrollment mostly met expectations with the number of elementary students dropping to 11,966 from 12,142. Middle school enrollment is up at 5,946 over last year's 5,824; and high school enrollment is at 7,028, over last year's 6,865. Title I funding can only be used at Title I schools, which do not include any of the system's high schools.

The new teachers will be used to create smaller groups of eight to 15 students.

"Our board has said all along that keeping class sizes small is important," Schofield said. Class sizes in the schools range from 19 to 23.5 students on average, he said.

"They'll be pulled out of class and work on a specific skill gap in math or reading," Schofield said. "This will allow us to serve more and more students. They might not have been able to be pulled out of class before."

Teachers will be placed at one of Hall County's 11 Title I schools. Hall County has nine elementary schools, including Lyman Hall and Oakwood, and two middle schools, East Hall and South Hall, that qualify to receive support teachers. Where teachers go will depend on how much Title I funding the district receives to hire new faculty.

"It becomes a Rubik's Cube and there's an awful amount of work that goes into finding where we can spend (Title I) money and how much," Schofield said.

Georgia's Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, which went into effect July 1, had school board members slightly concerned about students leaving the district, so Schofield said the first projected enrollment numbers "had some taken off the top" to account for the law's effects.

"The immigration legislation had far less effect on our numbers than many led us to believe," Schofield said.

The new teachers will be pulled from ones who have previously applied for jobs in the Hall County school system. Schofield said there is "tremendous backlog of candidates" to choose from.

David Moody, Hall County's director of elementary schools, and Patty Robinson, director of literacy and school improvement, will follow up with candidates.

"We keep in front of us a pool of what we consider to be the absolute cream of the crop," Schofield said.