BELLOWS FALLS -- The Windham Northeast Supervisory Union will start the process of hiring another full-time kindergarten teacher for the 2014-15 school year following a unanimous vote of the Rockingham School Board on Monday.

School Board Chairman Jim "Jiggs" McAuliffe said the new educator will be hired before the start of the 2014-15 school year and will have a classroom at Saxtons River Elementary School. He said this will be the fourth kindergarten class in the WNESU.

The School Board’s vote is the result of an anticipated spike in kindergarten students next year. McAuliffe previously told the Reformer there are 71 children registered for kindergarten in the fall, though the School Board prefers the figure to hover around 60. He said Rockingham’s three existing kindergarten classes ideally consist of about 20 students each.

McAuliffe told the Reformer on Monday each of the four kindergarten classes will likely contain 17 to 18 children. The vote to OK the hiring of a new kindergarten teacher was recommended by WNESU School Superintendent Chris Kibbe, who last week told the Reformer the supervisory union monitors the number of 3- and 4-year-olds in the area so the administration knows what to expect in terms of enrollment well before parents register their children for kindergarten. He said annual school budgets are prepared the previous fall, which is the ideal time to plan for an extra teacher if necessary. However, there are children whose families move in or out of the area at any given time, he said.

McAuliffe said not expanding the number of kindergarten classes to four would have meant having two classes of 24 and one with 23. He also said many of the 71 registered kindergartners are already on Individualized Education Plans, because efforts are made to identify such children by the time they are 3 or 4 years old.

He told the Reformer he does not know why the registered number of kindergartners is as high as it is, but mentioned there sometimes is simply a slight increase.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.