Morenci schools prepare for cuts 03.23.2011

Written by David Green.

Budget proposals coming out of Lansing have cast a negative pall over school boards throughout Michigan. If Governor Rick Snyder’s proposal were accepted, Morenci’s funding would drop by up to a million dollars.

“There have been several announcements regarding the state budget and there have been several proposed bills,” said Morenci Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne.

He plans to meet with teachers to explain the situation and also at two public meetings. The first of these is at noon today (Wednesday) at the Morenci Kiwanis Club meeting. The second is at the board of education meeting scheduled at 7 p.m. April 11.

“Our goal is not to scare people,” he said. “Our goal is to keep you informed and to involve our staff and the community in the process of being the solution in how we address these challenges.”

He intends to present an overview of what’s been done in recent years to meet financial shortfalls and how the new cuts could affect school operations here.

At the extreme, one proposal could close schools due to state aid cuts and force consolidation. One measure moving through the house would allow financial managers to take over the operation of schools and municipalities that are in a deficit situation. Managers are currently being trained for the job, Osborne said.

Hudson schools are in a deficit this year, he said, but the district should be out of it next year. Osborne doesn’t expect that situation to be addressed by financial managers, but rather school districts with chronic deficit troubles.

Looking back on recent years, proposed cuts are often moderated, meaning that Morenci’s loss would end up being less than $1 million. Still, Osborne expects a significant reduction in financing.

“It’s hard to imagine we’re going to make it through the next year without cuts,” he said.

Staff members will have to consider concessions and layoffs are likely.

The board will meet for a special session at 6 p.m. tonight (Wednesday) to discuss staff negotiations. The discussion will be in a closed meeting, Osborne said.

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    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.
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