New hires in school district

GLADSTONE – This year Gladstone students will see some new faces in the halls and classrooms following a series of hires made at Monday night’s school board meeting.

High school students who struggle with math will soon be under the instruction of Erik Dalgord, who is familiar with Gladstone Schools.

“I understand this to be an at risk assignment meaning that this position will work with students who have struggled with math in the past,” said Board Treasurer Tom Harrell. “Mr. Dalgord came with good recommendations from his previous school’s secretary and superintendent, and he is an alumni of Gladstone High School.”

The district received 10 applications for the position and scheduled six interviews before selecting Dalgord as the standout candidate.

“One of the things we were all reassured of was that any one of the six could have been excellent selections, and I think the (personnel) committee was really happy to hear we are really getting some top quality candidates for these positions,” said Harrell.

Elementary students will also be seeing some new faces in the halls and in the classrooms. The hire of two new kindergarten teachers, Amy Rouleau and Sara Sholten; an elementary music teacher, Joseph Hellberg; and a third grade teacher, Renee Casperson, were approved during the meeting.

“We really were excited about all of these recommendations. Quality applicants with excellent experience we’re thankful that they’re not just willing to come here, but we’re very confident that they’re going to make us proud,” said Gladstone Superintendent Jay Kulbertis.

Casperson will be filling the position created by the retirement of former third grade teacher Robin Custance. Earlier in the year, the district had made a strategic decision not to budget to fill the position with the intent of using repurposed federal money to fill the position at a later time. However, parents and Custance herself raised concerns about class sizes during a school board meeting in June. In July the board announced it would fill the position using funding gained from class size reductions at the kindergarten level.

Class sizes are still a concern for the district. If the size of kindergarten through third grade classes are at 25 students, the district is contractually obligated to have a review to determine whether or not there is a need for aide support.

“At this point it looks like on paper we may be in need of doing that, but we will take a look at what students are actually here at the start of the school year,” said Kulbertis.

Concerns over class sizes extend beyond the elementary level, however, the exact size of each class is difficult to determine.

“We are also concerned about class sizes at the middle school and high school, we’re working to balance those. The unfortunate reality about schools of choice is the biggest variable in the equation is our enrollment number and that’s not always known until school starts,” said Kulbertis.