The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • KayseInField
    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.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.
  • 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.
  • Front.F.office
    NEW OFFICES—Fayette village administrator Steve Blue speaks with tax administrator Genna Biddix at the new front desk of the village office. Village council members voted to use budgeted renovation funds targeted for the old office and instead buy the vacant bank building on the corner of Main and Fayette streets. The old office was sold to Sherwood State Bank. When everything is put into place in the spacious new village office, an open house will be scheduled. Council member David Wheeler donated all of his time needed to make changes in the bank interior to fit the Village’s needs.

School Enrollment: Madison finally slows 2008.01.23

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Just when it looked like Madison’s school enrollment was leveling off, along comes a kindergarten class numbering 152.

Only Adrian and Tecumseh have a larger kindergarten enrollment in Lenawee County, and Madison’s other classes average only 110.

Or maybe there’s just something attractive about the school’s kindergarten program. A year ago, once-tiny Madison had 147 new kindergarten students, but that number dropped to 116 in this year’s first grade class. Thirty-one kids apparently didn’t hang around long.

Madison’s enrollment increased by only six students from a year ago—way down from the average of 52 for the previous seven years—but the district still advanced higher in the rankings as other districts continue to lose students.

In this year’s enrollment data from the Lenawee Intermediate School District, every public school district in the county lost students except Madison and Adrian. No surprise there for Madison administrators, but Adrian’s gain of 27 students marked the first enrollment gain in a long time.

After years of decline, Adrian’s enrollment stands at 444 students more than Tecumseh. Last year there was a difference of only 333.

One more thing to note about Madison: This year’s senior class is the last one below 100 students, barring any significant changes. The average class size, not including the big kindergarten class, stands at 110. This year’s senior class numbers only 80.

Seven other districts—from Adrian down to Sand Creek—have larger graduating classes than that, yet Madison still stands as the fourth largest district. Onsted still has 319 more students than Madison and Blissfield has 154 fewer.

In September 2006, Morenci showed a decline of 22 students from the previous year. By September 2007, enrollment dropped another 22.

There was an unusually small graduating class last May with only 49 members, but there’s more of that coming along. This year’s freshman class numbers only 50 and the third grade class stands at just 53.

Morenci’s average class size is 67 and the kindergarten started off with 71.

It doesn’t look too promising for the county’s two smallest districts. Deerfield, the smallest, lost 26 students from a year ago—seven percent of its total enrollment.  Deerfield’s average class size is 27. The average K-2 is only 17.

There’s a similar situation at Britton, the next smallest district. The average class size is 40, but only 23 are enrolled in kindergarten. Only one K-6 class reaches 40.

The other districts losing the biggest percentage of the student body are Hudson with a 7 percent loss and Addison with a 6 percent loss. Hudson is likely to dip below the 1,000 mark next September.

Across the border in Fayette, enrollment dropped by 19 students to put the total at 438.   The district has an unusually small senior class with only 23 students, but there are two other classes in the 20s. The average class size is 34.

Schools of Choice

Michigan’s Schools of Choice option continues to play a big role in enrollment patterns.

Without Schools of Choice, Morenci would be back above 900 students where Sand Creek  stands; Sand Creek would shrink by 200 students to 736.

Twenty-nine Morenci district students believe the grass is greener on the Aggie side of the fence, while only 14 Sand Creek students choose Morenci.

It’s often a matter of geography, said Morenci superintendent Kyle Griffith. He makes an effort to contact all families choosing other schools to find out why they leave. Many families live near school district boundaries and choose to cross to the other side.

Griffith said the district works to continue to make Morenci attractive with AP courses, dual enrollment opportunities, and other benefits such as the financial agreement with Siena Heights.

“The greatest thing we can control is instruction and I think we do a good job there,” he said. “It’s the people who make the difference.”

Twenty-seven percent of Sand Creek’s student body lives outside the district. Most of them come from Adrian (154), but the school also draws students from Hudson (24) and Madison (27) in addition to Morenci’s 29.

For Madison, 33 percent of its students live elsewhere, with 439 coming from Adrian. Adrian loses a grand total of 887 students—almost a quarter of the district’s students head elsewhere. The district picks up 215 students, more than half of them from Madison.

Britton is equal to Madison in that 33 percent of the student body resides in other districts—mostly Tecumseh. Without Schools of Choice, Britton wouldn’t be much larger than its neighbor, Deerfield.

Deerfield and Adrian are the only districts in the county that don’t post a net gain from the choice option, although it’s getting more tenuous for Morenci. Last year the district’s net gain was 21. This year the number slipped to six, with 50 coming in and 44 going out.

As in the past, Waldron students have kept Morenci in the positive, but that number slipped from 28 a year ago to 19 this year.

On the withdrawal side, Morenci loses 10 to Hudson, five to Onsted and 29 to Sand Creek. The gains are two from Adrian, one from Blissfield, 12 from Hudson, one from Onsted, 14 from Sand Creek, and one from Tecumseh, in addition to Waldron’s 19.

 

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