Teacher turnover hits Hayden schools

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— The Hayden School District has had to fill seven teaching positions and one counselor position this summer because of retirements or teachers leaving the district.

So far, the school administration has been able to fill six of the teaching positions, which leaves an elementary school position available, along with a middle and high school counselor position.

"In general, the hiring process has gone real well," Superintendent Scott Mader said. "The number of positions we had to fill might be a little above our average, but it is not significant."

Kevin Kleckler, who is the president of the Hayden Education Association, has a different take on the amount of teachers that have to be replaced.

Because of the departures, about a quarter of the district's 35 teaching positions will be filled with a new teacher.

"Seven is a lot," Kleckler said. "It seems like a pretty high number to me."

Constant teacher turnover could start to affect the students and is an issue the teachers' union takes seriously, Kleckler said.

"Any time you have a lack of consistency, it does create problems," said Kleckler, who is entering his ninth year as a high school shop teacher. "The students don't know who is teaching or coaching because there is no reliability or consistency.

"You need to have consistency."

The schools that have had to replace the most teachers this summer are the high school and elementary school.

Each school lost three teachers from last year. Each of the school's openings involved a teacher retiring.

Eileen Coffelt retired from her position as an elementary school teacher. William Grimes retired as the music director at the high school.

Todd Sargent will replace Grimes, who taught at the school for more than 30 years.

"Todd filled in last year at the elementary school," Mader said. "He is familiar with the district."

A special education teacher at the middle school had to be filled this summer because Gina Zabel took a one-year leave of absence.

The district plans to fill the position for the year with the elementary special education teacher, Mader said.

School administrators say they are hopeful they will fill the vacant counselor position and the elementary teacher positions as soon as possible, Mader said.

Along with teaching positions, the district has also had to fill other staff positions.

Vacant positions that were filled this summer include the technology director and place-based coordinator.

The district has agreed with the Soroco School District to share the services of their place-based coordinator, Amy Pankonin.

Pankonin replaces Lynne Drogosz, who resigned. To fund the position, the district received a grant from the Yampa Valley Legacy Initiative.

Pankonin "will work half time at each district," Mader said. "This position was fairly easy to fill. We will share the cost with Soroco."

Another position the district has to fill by the start of the school year is a secretary position at the high school, Mader said.

"So far, we have been lucky in filling the positions we have," he said.

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