Sheridan school board hires new teachers amid controversy

Sheridan school board officials approved the hiring of several new teachers at last month’s school board meeting.

The school board carried motions at their June 14 meeting to hire Rodney Stout for High School Principal, April Wuelfing for Social Studies teacher grades 7-12, Bradley Kadrmus for Math teacher grades 9-12, and Bobby Wicks to teach fourth grade.

Superintendent Kim Harding recommended that the board hire applicants with multiple degrees, so that staff can be moved around as needed, according to minutes from the meeting.

The school board also moved to hire two more people to teach broadfield science, which combines chemistry and physics into the curriculum.  The goal behind this is to offer a wider variety of science classes, which in turn will better prepare students to continue their education after they graduate high school. The idea is to have one person to teach multiple science classes, something especially important for smaller schools. Board members moved to hire Shawn Regnerus to teach chemistry, physics and physical science while Jan Banks will teach biology.

In order for junior and senior students to receive college credit for science classes, the teacher must have a masters degree, even if it cost the school board more money to hire that person.

Board member Michael Berry was enthusiastic about the move to bring in someone to teach broadfield science.

“Rather than our students being limited to just plain biology, now they have an opportunity to learn physics,” said Berry.

Not everyone on the board approved of the decisions to hire new teachers. Board member Gayle Callahan abruptly left the June 14 meeting after a disagreement during a closed session. The board initially assumed that Callahan resigned from her position, but she resumed her role at the July 12 meeting.

Callahan’s frustration centered around the process of hiring the two new science teachers and what she saw as the superintendent’s lack of communication with other teachers on the staff, she said.

“I left the meeting because I was angry and upset,” Callahan said.

Board member Jeffery Marsh was hesitant to explain public concerns over the new hires.

“I personally have never believed in getting too involved in the hiring of teachers,” Marsh said. “We’ve had committees of administration and trustees doing the hiring, and in some of the cases where there were multiple applicants they used a rubric scale to narrow it down to the individuals they wanted to interview.”

Despite two phone calls, superintendent Harding could not be reached for comment by press time Tuesday.

The next Sheridan school board meeting in scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 9.

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