Tension over establishing a new class at the high school broke at last week’s school board meeting when members of the Teton High School English Department reminded school administration that they indeed have enough experience to craft English curriculum for a new course and wondered why the district was not looking for a teacher within the walls of the high school.

At last Monday’s regular school board meeting, Diane Green, the head of the high school English department, questioned why the high school and district administration would seek to create a new class without their input, a violation of board policy. Additionally, Green asked why this class was being advertised for hire without administration looking internally for qualified staff first.

Doug Tedford, ELL Coordinator for Teton School District and Samuel Zogg, Teton High School principal have been working to establish a “High Intensity” English class to better serve students who have a strong grasp of language and communication skills, but who have low English language skills. This after the urging of the high school English staff. There is an immediate need to serve five students at the high school with this type of class.

“If this is going to be a rigorous English class, call on the teachers who have the experience,” Green said at the board meeting. “As a department, it would be nice to have that consideration. All three of us have expressed interest to teach this class,” she said of the three teachers who comprise the department including herself, Susan Pence and Jason Ruff.

Green said she was concerned that the administration already hired a teacher to teach the class especially, “when you have teachers in the building who are highly qualified, who have expressed an interest in this class.”

Green added that the English department was supportive and excited to have such a course for a specific group of students and said that if the administration would offer teachers the opportunity to collaborate more closely with planners, filling the class could simply be a matter of a teacher giving up a prep period to teach. “Technically, it’s not a new class, it’s a class that needs covered,” said Green.

Zogg said that he did consider hiring within the district and also looked for teachers outside of the district to expedite the need to cover the class. He told the school board that because it was a new position, he assumed he needed to advertise for the teacher. Zogg also looked into placing a Spanish teacher in the High Intensity English class, but the state mandates that the teacher of such a course have an English certification. Zogg said he had not made a new hire for the class.

Teford reaffirmed his desire to work with all parties for the best possible outcome as board chair Chris Isaacson stepped in to suggest that the process had “hit a little bump,” and asked that this issues be further discussed in planning meetings with teaching staff and administration.

Board member Mary Mello asked what could be done in the immediate future for the five students who could benefit form the course now. Board member Ben Kearsley had the same concern.

“I just don’t want anyone to lose sight of why this program is being offered. I don’t want that to get lost,” he said. “We need to follow board policy and if we have four students who need help, let’s find a way to help them. Keep that at the forefront.”

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