Dietrich School Chooses New Superintendent

DIETRICH • Gooding High School Principal Ben Hardcastle is leaving the district to take the superintendent job in Dietrich.

He’ll replace Neal Hollingshead, who is retiring after eight years.

“I’m really excited to go work in a close-knit community,” Hardcastle said Friday. “They have a great pattern and history of academic success.”

He starts July 1. He’ll fill many roles in the 230-student district, including superintendent, elementary school principal, federal programs director and transportation director.

School trustees offered Hardcastle a two-year contract with an $80,000 annual salary.

“We’re really excited to have him join our team in Dietrich,” school board chairman Starr Olsen said. “He brings a lot of excitement.”

School trustees voted unanimously to hire Hardcastle. “It was clear cut,” Olsen said. “It was a really easy decision.”

More than 10 people applied for the job and school officials interviewed five.

Hardcastle started his career as an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at an inter-city school in Houston, Texas. He was voted “Teacher of the Year” at Hoffman Middle School during the 2009-10 school year.

In addition to teaching, he coached many sports, including football, track and soccer.

Hardcastle moved to Gooding and taught sixth-grade geography for one year. He worked for three years as Gooding Middle School principal and is Gooding High’s principal this year.

He’s enrolled in an education leadership program at Boise State University and intends to eventually earn a doctoral degree through the program.

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Hardcastle said he enjoyed working with Gooding teachers and students.

“It will be hard to leave,” he said.

But it was a rough year in the Gooding School District. Hardcastle was placed on leave for two days in November after challenging then-Superintendent Mary Larson over a plagiarism issue with the employee handbook.

Later that month, school trustees hired a facilitator to address problems in the district and suspended the employee handbook indefinitely.

More than 90 percent of school employees voted in favor of a statement of “no confidence” in Larson. She resigned in February.

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