Many Changes for the Sparta Schools


SPARTA, NJ-While it is typical each year to have staffing changes, this year there are a number of noteworthy adjustments in the Sparta School District.  It was announced at the board of education work session last week that the principal of the Helen Morgan Elementary school for the past two years, Michael Gregory, would assume the duties of middle school principal in September.  Doug Layman, Sparta Middle School principal since 2010 would be moving to Helen Morgan.  Prior to being the principal at Helen Morgan, Gregory was Principal of Mohawk Avenue School when it was the fifth-grade school.

At the board meeting Tobin said, “As superintendent, part of my job is to see that people are in the best place for the students in the district.  This decision was just a part of that process.  It was my decision.”

No other principal will be changing their assignment.  Laura Trent will remain at Mohawk Avenue School.  Joe Leone will continue at Alpine School.   Daniel Johnson will begin his third year at Sparta High School in September.  

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The Director of Buildings and Ground Keith Gourlay announced his retirement on June 30, effective December 31, 2014.  Gourlay has served the Sparta school district since February 1985.  He has overseen many changes to the district including the building of the Middle School and reconstruction of the High School.  He has also been in the district for the aftermath of several weather challenges including this past winter and hurricane Sandy.

Gourlay was the Past President of New Jersey School Buildings and Grounds Association, Instructor for the Rutgers Certified Educational Facilities Manager program and is serving as Hampton Township Committeeman.

David Acosta, the district Network Specialist, resigned effective July 21.  Acosta has been with the Sparta School district for nearly eight years.  He oversaw the Information Technology portion of the high school reconstruction project.  He also directed the overhaul of infrastructure district wide, bringing it from a system plagued with outages and outdated equiptment to one ready to face the challenges of on-line testing and more. Acosta will be employed in Randolph.

There are a number of staff members leaving the district, having dedicated their career to serving the Sparta schools: 

  • William Hardy, Sparta High School Math teacher with 30 years of service.
  • Barbara Kostenko, Elementary teacher with 27 years of service.
  • Diane Marino, Guidance Secretary with 25 years of service.
  • Diane Leiher, Middle School Special Education teacher more with than 25 years of service.
  • Susan Knause Mac Farlane, Middle School Math teacher with 22 years of service.
  • Debra Swarts, High School Special Education teacher with 22 years of service.
  • Lorraine O’Kean, Secretary to Buildings and Grounds who has served the district for 21 years.
  • Mary Piccola, Middle School Special Education teacher with 19 years of service.
  • MaryAnn Hyland, Sparta High School Media Specialist will be retiring after 16 years.  Sparta High School English teacher, Angela DeLuccia will replace Hyland.

The Assistant Business Administrator position was open.  Kristine Deamy was approved to be the new Assistant Business Administrator and will begin as soon as she is released from her current district. 

With the board’s decision to move third grade to Mohawk Avenue School and Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten to Alpine there are a number of staff members that will be moving from one building to another and within the building.  There are also a number of staff members who will split their time between two buildings. 

Leala Baxter, Taran Gallagher, Gilbert Thompson and Kristen Wollenberg will be splitting their time between Mohawk Avenue School and Alpine Elementary School.

Stephanie Bernardo, Andrea Birch, Karen Kratina and Cherie Shefferman will be going between Mohawk Avenue School and Helen Morgan Elementary School.

On Monday the board also voted to approve Tobin's recommended revised school calendar.  The school calendar for 2014-2015 will include eight snow days and push the last day of school back a week to June 26.


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Upcoming Events


Tue, April 24, 7:30 PM


Sparta Township Council Meeting


Sun, April 29, 3:30 PM

Codey Arena, West Orange

Girls Try Hockey Free Clinic


Fri, May 4, 7:00 PM

Sparta Evangelical Free Church, Sparta

Veritas Christian Academy presents The Music Man

Arts & Entertainment


Sun, May 6, 7:00 AM

Liberty State Park, Jersey City

11th Annual Susan G. Komen North Jersey Race for ...

Health & Wellness


Thu, May 10, 6:00 PM

First Presbyterian Church of Sparta, Sparta

Creating a Pollinators Garden - Talk & Plant Sale

Education Home & Garden

Sun, May 13, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Sun, May 27, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

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