School Talk: Rumors aren't helping the situation 2012.10.03

Written by David Green.

We were glad to hear school board president Scott Merillat speak to the unusually large crowd at the Morenci Board Education meeting Monday. He touched on the fact that rumors are circulating about what the board and administrators are doing to the district.

It’s obvious what they’re doing—they’re trying to find ways to keep the district operating and move it out of a deficit situation. Michigan schools are not allowed to continual operating in the red. A deficit-reduction plan must be filed and the deficit must be removed if Morenci Area Schools are going to continue to exist. On top of that, a balanced budget must be in place to avoid further debt.

Board members have directed Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne to find a way out of the financial mess created by increasing costs and falling revenue. This leads to perhaps the most troubling of all the rumors.

We’ve heard it said that Dr. Osborne’s goal is to pave the way for Morenci to close and merge with Hudson, where he also serves as superintendent.

Consolidation is certainly a prospect for Morenci if costs can’t be trimmed, but to see that as Dr. Osborne’s goal is ridiculous. When he says his goal is for Morenci schools to remain intact, we believe him.

School administrators often become very unpopular figures even in the best of times. In a challenging situation such as the one facing Morenci, the likelihood is much higher for a school leader to attract anger. We wish it weren’t that way, but that’s all right. It’s not part of Dr. Osborne’s job to be popular, and he said himself last month that he expects to fall further into disfavor when he does what needs to be done to save the district.

These are very difficult times for the school district. With the way many residents are turning against the top administrator, we seem to be going from bad to worse.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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