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.train
    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.
  • Funcolor
    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.
  • 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.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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