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.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • 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.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • 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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