Morenci board of education 3.4.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci Superintendent of Schools Kyle Griffith knew what lay ahead when he saw the enrollment figures in September.

The situation didn’t improve as the year progressed. Enrollment dropped a little more in the second student count last month and word came from Lansing that state aid was likely to fall by $59 per student—an additional loss of more than $50,000.

With that information in hand, school board members approved Monday the administration’s recommendations for staff layoffs and reductions.

One full-time teacher and one half-time teacher will be laid off. Two full-time teachers will be reduced to half-time. Two will be reduced to less than full-time. Two bus drivers will be laid off.

In addition, one teacher announced plans to resign at the end of the school year, but that position will be absorbed by the existing staff rather than by hiring a new teacher.

Further adjustments might be in order, Griffith said, but layoff notices must be made now in accordance with contract language.

Griffith told the board in September that the staff must be aligned with the student population. Falling enrollment would lead to a smaller staff, he said.

“In four years, these are the first reductions the teaching staff has faced,” Griffith said. “The board has done a solid job of avoiding cuts to instruction.”

Since Griffith was hired as superintendent four years ago, he’s made a concerted effort to avoid cuts to the classroom.

“The board and administration have worked diligently to avoid the classroom reductions by taking administrative pay freezes, sharing administrative duties and reducing administrative positions,” he said. “Unfortunately, instruction will be reduced for the first time.”

Griffith praised the board for its “progressive and prudent” approach and noted there are districts in worse shape than Morenci.

PERSONNEL—Second-year probation was granted to teachers Brandi Boswell, Barb Bernath, Keith Filipek and Paula Grieder. Fourth-year probation was granted to Jamie DeVoe, Heidi Drake and Vanessa Bloom.

Tenure was granted to Chris Mansfield, although a question was asked about his experience.

Board member Scott Merillat asked what administrative reviews Mansfield has received other than in the alternative education classroom. Mansfield’s certification is in elementary education, Merillat said, and granting him tenure would make him eligible to teach at the elementary school level, although he hasn’t been reviewed as an elementary teacher.

Griffith said Mansfield wouldn’t be in line for tenure if there were concerns about his teaching skills. Middle school principal Kay Johnson also backed up Mansfield’s work as a teacher at that school.

COACH—Renae Schaffner was hired as the assistant softball coach.

  • 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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