New staff in place for start of school year |

New staff in place for start of school year

Collin Smith

— New staff does not mean different standards, said Joel Sheridan, Moffat County School District assistant superintendent.

“This school district puts the absolute best qualified candidates into any position we have,” Sheridan said.

Students start school Aug. 21, and the School District has about 30 new employees, including teachers, para-professionals and Bruce Gregg, the new principal for Craig Intermediate School.

As of Monday, all teaching positions had been filled.

The only remaining positions are for para-professionals, who assist teachers and sometimes have other administrative functions.

There are two long-term substitute teachers at Moffat County High School, a math and an English teacher, and four teachers in the district on alternative licensure.

“When people are real close, and have all of their (course) content out of the way, but maybe lack student teaching experience, we work with them to develop them,” Sheridan said. “It’s part of a homegrown farming system to keep teachers here.”

The Board of Control for Educational Services awards alternative licensure through a yearlong program it coordinates.

The school district has seven other “homegrown” locals starting new jobs this year. All of them are recent graduates returning to Moffat County to be teachers, and in one case, a special education teaching assistant.

Jane Harmon, Moffat County High School principal, staffed almost all of her positions as of Monday.

“A couple of weeks ago, I was panicking,” Harmon said, “But now I have almost everything filled.”

In addition to new high school math and English teachers, there is a new vocal music teacher and a restructured special education program.

Sharon Andrew, who retired last year, plans to teach special education testing in addition to two other regularly defined special education teachers, both of whom taught last year.

Para-professionals are slated to spend more time with special education students to ensure each gets appropriate attention.

“We have all great people,” Harmon said. “I think every one was a quality candidate.”

Rural school districts can face difficulties finding enough teaching candidates, Sheridan said. He estimated the state lacks about 100 math teachers, and many of them want to teach in bigger urban centers, such as Fort Collins.

“We’re not hurting near as poor as some of the smaller areas around here,” Sheridan said.

School districts commonly lose staff for a litany of reasons, including maternity leave, transfers, moving and taking different jobs, Sheridan said. One year in particular, the Moffat County School District had five to six teachers on maternity leave at the same time.

Each year, the district loses about 8 to 12 teachers to retirement, he said.

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