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.

  • Homecoming Court
    HOMECOMING—One senior candidate will be chosen Morenci’s fall homecoming queen during half-time ceremonies Friday at the football field. In the back row are seniors Mikayla Price, who will be escorted by Mason Vaughn; Madison Bachman, escorted by Kiegan Merillat, and Mikayla Reinke, escorted by Griffin Grieder. Senior Ariana Roseman is absent from the photo. Her escort is Garrett Smith. In the front is sophomore Abbie White, who will be escorted by Ryder Price; junior Madysen Schmitz, escorted by Harley McCaskey and freshman Madison Keller, escorted by Jarett Cook.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • 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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