The teaching staff at Riverside Elementary School District 96 will increase by 4.5 positions next year.

Most of the increase will come at L.J. Hauser Junior High School, because enrollment there is projected to increase by 46 students next year. Next year the enrollment at Hauser is projected to be 640 students compared to the 594 students currently attending Hauser.

In 2010, enrollment at Hauser Junior High School was 463 students; in 2002 it was 373, according to that year’s School report Card on the Illinois State Board of Education website.

“Hauser’s going to be probably the largest it’s been for a long time if not forever, because you’ve got a big fifth-grade class coming over and there’s a very large seventh-grade class moving into eighth grade,” Co-Interim Superintendent Patrick Patt said. “In fact we’re actually going to have to put in a few more lockers, because we’re going to be out of lockers.”

Two more teachers will be hired at Hauser in core academic subject areas and one teacher will be hired to teach a new elective class emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) that will be offered next year. And a half-time physical education teacher will also be hired at Hauser next year.

Special education staff will be beefed up next year with 1.5 additional special education teaching positions added throughout the district. One additional bilingual teacher will be hired to teach in Spanish and English at Central Elementary School next year. Currently, the only fully bilingual class in the district is at Ames School.

And a half time position will be added for students whose first language is not English but do not need a fully bilingual class.

Two elementary schools will lose a teacher because of retirements and the departure of the large fifth-grade class; those teachers will not be replaced. Central School will have one fewer fifth-grade section next year, and Ames School will go from three first-grade sections this year to two next year.

Two third-grade teachers, Paula Stephens at Ames and Vicki Vizek at Central School, are retiring at the end of the school year. Some teachers at Ames and Central may change grade assignments next year.

Enrollment in the district is expected to stabilize in the near future, according to a demographic report done for the district in 2015. The size of incoming kindergarten classes are not projected to increase for the next couple of years.

The school board approved the hiring of the 4.5 additional teaching positions at its March 15 meeting.

 Finance director rehired

At the March 15 meeting, the school board also approved rehiring Interim Director of Finance and Operations David Sellers for another year.

Sellers came to District 96 in 2014 after retiring as the business manager at Lyons Township High School District 204 earlier that year.

A highly experienced business manager, Sellers is known for creating for the depth and breadth of his reports and analysis. He loves to delve into the weeds of data and is also able to analyze big-picture trends and ramifications. 

“He gives very detailed descriptions of the financial picture, and it seems to be working on an interim basis,” Patt said. “Business managers are very hard to come by. There isn’t a really big pool and, quite honestly, Riverside is very lucky that they have somebody of his quality.”

School board President Jeff Miller says that Sellers will be an excellent complement to incoming superintendent Martha Ryan-Toye, who takes over on July 1.

“We’re very, very happy to have him,” Miller said. “He’s a great finance director and having him on board when Ms. Ryan-Toye starts will be very, very helpful. He’s on top of everything and he’s a great finance director.”

Because Sellers is receiving a pension from the Illinois Teacher Retirement System, he can work no more than 100 days. His pay next year will increase to $675 a day from the $650 a day he is now receiving.