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.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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