Morenci school board 03.03.10

Written 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.

  • 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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • 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.

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