Southwest Licking school board members were not happy about the prospect of having to move some students in the middle of a semester, though all agreed it had to be done.

Southwest Licking school board members were not happy about the prospect of having to move some students in the middle of a semester, though all agreed it had to be done.

The board voted 5-0 at its regular meeting Jan. 18 to hire a fourth-grade teacher for Pataskala Elementary School.

The new teacher will teach students transferred from classes that are over a 26-student limit, as well as fourth-graders who move into the district.

The new teacher also will have fourth-graders who live near Pataskala Elementary School but who are being bused to Kirkersville and Etna elementary schools.

Board member Dave Engel said he didn't want to kick a student out of a class that he or she has been attending for a while.

"Every fourth-grade class is at its maximum (capacity)," said Superintendent Forest Yocum.

He said he is aware of eight to 10 students who were being bused to Kirkersville and Etna elementary schools because no room space was available at Pataskala Elementary School near their homes.

Treasurer Richard Jones said no fourth-grade teacher should be teaching more than 26 students and yet, some are.

Board member Cindy Zaino said that while she didn't like the idea of moving the students mid-year, she believes the district has no choice.

"It's an ugly catch-22," she said.

The only other option is to do nothing and hope there's not a large influx of fourth graders any time soon, she said.

"It's got to be done; we're out of room," said fourth-grade teacher Vikki James. "There's no good way to do this, but it's got to be done."

Yocum said Pataskala fourth-graders who are being bused to Kirkersville and Etna are losing about half an hour of daily class time because they arrive late to class and then leave early.

Board member Roger Zeune called for the vote to hire the new fourth-grade teacher.

"Now would be the time to do it," he said.

Jones said the district hopes to hire the new teacher by Jan. 26, and have the students who qualify moved to Pataskala Elementary School by Jan. 30.

In other news, state Rep. Bill Hayes (R-Pataskala) swore in new board member Debra Moore and Engel. Moore replaced Brad Williams, who did not seek re-election in November, and Engel was re-elected.

The board also voted 5-0 for Don Huber as board president this year, replacing Engel, in the organizational meeting before the regular meeting.

Zeune nominated Engel for vice president but Engel nominated Zaino.

Zuene and Huber voted for Engel but Zaino became vice president after Engel and Moore joined her in a 3-2 majority vote.