Fayette schools: Thinking small, reducing staff 2012.05.23

Written by David Green.

The Fayette Board of Education decided Monday to make a significant change in the administration of the school district. When the next school year gets underway, the superintendent might be the same person as the elementary school principal.

This isn’t the first time Fayette has taken a sidestep from tradition. It started in 2007 when retired superintendent Russ Griggs was hired on a part-time basis. Each year since then he’s reduced the number of hours spent inside the school.

With Griggs’ contract set to expire a year from now—when the veteran administrator decides to retire one final time—and with the retirement of principal Luann Boyer this year, board members have an excellent opportunity to explore other possibilities.

Is this a bold move or simply a sign of the economic times? School critics will be quick to point out that there must have been too many administrators to begin with, and there may be some truth to that opinion. Morenci and Fayette have both shown that a full-time superintendent doesn’t appear to be necessary based on enrollment size and changing duties over the years. Morenci shares a school chief and Fayette employs theirs on a part-time basis. Due to finances, Morenci now splits a principal between the middle and high schools where before each building had its own.

We’re no judge of whether conditions have gotten better or worse with the changes made. School staff members are the ones who see how well it works every day. It seems likely that something is lost every time cuts are made, but with school finances the way they are, cuts must be made.

Several small districts employ a combined superintendent/principal and it will be interesting to hear from the candidates for the Fayette job to see what they think of the arrangement. If the board interviews a candidate they like, then Fayette, too, will make the change to a smaller administrative staff.

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    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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