MARINETTE - A month-and-a-half into the school year, the Marinette School District's newest facility, Menekaunee Sunrise Early Learning Center is having growing pains. There are far more students than originally expected so a request was made Tuesday night to bring in more help..

"With anything new you don't know what to expect," explained Sunrise principal Justine Braatz. "We started out with an enrollment that what we projected to be about 256 students and ended up with 306. That's a very positive thing because it shows people are trusting in what we're doing there but we hadn't anticipated that. So with those students we wanted to add support and we wanted to meet all their needs."

The board voted unanimously to hire three additional part-time paraprofessionals for the 4K program, three part-time paraprofessionals for Special Education programs, one part-time paraprofessional for the Early Childhood program along with an additional physical and occupational therapy services.

The additional cost for the added positions is $38,645. The board also approved salary increases of 2.07 percent for paraprofessionals, administrators and non-represented support staff for 2013-2014.

While the board did not discuss it in open session, members were provided with a briefing paper explaining in greater detail the reasons behind the need for additional assistance at the learning center, which goes beyond enrollment numbers.

For the therapy services, it was explained that "due to the comprehensive and intensive needs of Sunrise students with disabilities, the caseloads of our educational specialists are extremely high. Additionally, it is difficult to successfully group or co-treat these young children."

As for the need for additional paraprofessionals, the brief noted that "the support needed to provide a safe and effective program, especially with the increase of students with disabilities, would best be served by the addition of support personnel."

The additional support personnel would provide extra supervision, structure, review of speech and language and achievement skills and positive behavior support.

The board also heard a report on bullying and harassment from Student Services Director Cindy Russell Smith. The number of bullying reports dropped from 71 in 2011-12 to just 6 last year. Of those, 33 were substantiated in 2011-12 and just 2 last year.