By DAVID GREEN
The Morenci Board of Education passed a resolution Monday night to engage in joint discussions with the Hudson school board to consider shared services.
The first cooperative service agreement will focus on sharing a superintendent.
After Morenci superintendent Kyle Griffith left the district last month to help organize and lead the new JCC/LISD High School Academy in Adrian, high school principal Nate Parker was named interim superintendent while an advisory board began looking at options for the future.
That search soon turned to neighboring Hudson, another district facing extreme financial difficulties due to falling enrollment and cuts in state aid.
Dr. Michael Osborne is serving his first year as Hudson’s superintendent after working as the district’s high school/middle school principal for several years.
Morenci board president Scott Merillat said he and his advisory committee members—Dwight Mansfield and Carrie Dillon—met last week with two Hudson board members and Dr. Osborne to discuss the possibility of shared administration.
“They’re in the same situation as us,” Merillat said, “stretching their limited resources. It was a really good discussion.”
Merillat said the cooperative arrangement would not only save money but also help improve the school’s quality of education. By pooling resources, services to students could be expanded.
The committee will meet twice March 15 with Hudson’s advisory committee—first in Hudson and then in Morenci—to report on efforts to decide whether the shared superintendent is a possibility and how the two districts would move forward with the arrangement.
Mansfield said the shared role would be reviewed after a year. He insisted that the board has to be creative and explore new ways to keep the school in operation.
Merillat characterized the move as proactive in an effort to prevent state education officials from stepping in and directing the school’s finances in the future.
The two districts combined would have an enrollment of about 1,700 students, he said, which is a manageable size for one top administrator.
“It’s a good place to start,” board member Ivy Hutchison said.
“And it’s a good opportunity for us since we don’t have a superintendent,” added treasurer Gary Ries.
Merillat noted that Sand Creek already has a combined superintendent/high school principal role and that doesn’t offer the same opportunity as Hudson’s situation.
“Hopefully by April we should have a good idea of where we’re at,” Merillat said.
COACHES—Don Williams was hired to serve as varsity baseball coach and Joseph Wohlgamuth was hired as golf coach.
STAFF—Brandon VanEtten was hired to fill a vacancy as a full-time independent paraprofessional.
FURNACE—The low bid of $1,675 from Mechanical Extreme of Addison was accepted for a new bus garage furnace.
SNOW—After Allen’s Quality Lawn Care informed the school that it would no longer clear snow on school grounds, the board voted to hire T&R Total Lawn Care of Morenci to serve for the remainder of the winter.
Allen’s will be given a 30-day termination notice for the lawn care contract and bids will be taken for that job.
TENURE—A decision on tenure/probation status for five teachers was tabled until April.
MUD—Bus driver Pat Houttekier made what she called her annual complaint about poor drainage in the bus parking lot, resulting in standing water and mud.