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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
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    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
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    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • 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.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.

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