The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
  • Front.sculpt
    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Fayette school board 04.20.2011

Written by David Green.


Fayette Board of Education members approved Monday a list of cuts for the 2011-12 school year totaling nearly $352,000, but that’s only only a partial fix to the projected $566,300 drop in revenue.

Superintendent of schools Russell Griggs told the board that a two-year projection shows a drop in revenue of up to $900,000. If the board can maintain the level of cuts for two years, about $700,000 of the losses could be covered. The district would still be forced to dip into its savings to cover the shortfall.

“We need to make drastic changes in our operation,” Griggs said when presenting his list of cuts, and he urged the board to act soon to avoid a deficit situation.

The tax equivalent of the shortfall is more than 12 mills, Griggs said, but he doesn’t see this as a time to ask district residents to pay more. Besides, an existing seven-mill levy expires next year and needs to be renewed or replaced.

The district’s income tax revenue is also declining.

District treasurer Kelly Bentley cautioned board members about media reports showing increases in state aid. There’s actually a combination of increases and decreases, she said, leaving Fayette with an eight percent drop in state revenue. The decline is equal to $449 per pupil over a two-year period.

“Nothing that I see is increasing,” Bentley said about the districts sources of revenue.

State and local projections shows a decline in property tax and income tax revenue; large reductions in the tangible personal property tax until it is phased out for the 2013 fiscal year; and the end of federal “stimulus funds” through the school stabilization program and the education jobs program. Add to that the deficit spending of $339,700 already in place for the current school year.

CUTS—Cuts for the next school year include the elimination of two elementary school teaching jobs and one special education teacher.

Reductions include changes in the librarian and technology positions. A vocational teacher, music teacher and one other high school teacher would go to half time. A change in the copy machine lease would save $11,000.

Supt. Griggs’s position would shrink from the current 0.5 full time equivalent to 0.2.

Any increase in unemployment costs will reduce the savings from the cuts approved by the board.

Griggs said he hears suggestions about cutting athletics, transportation and food service, but he doesn’t see that as a good approach. The district already operates its transportation service as the third most efficient in the state.

If athletics were eliminated, several students would transfer to other districts. The loss in revenue from fewer students would likely be higher than the savings in athletic costs, Griggs said.

He’s also taken food service out of the list of possible cuts because no general fund money is used to support the service, and the cafeteria fund remains healthy.

Griggs and Bentley continue to look for possible cuts, he said, but those three area will not be considered.

SPECIAL SERVICES—Griggs noted that Fayette has one of the highest percentage of special needs children in the four-county area. Special education costs top $800,000 annually.

CALENDAR—The approved a revised school calendar that places the final day for students on June 2.

NHS—The requirement for joining the National Honor Society will return to a 3.5 GPA, as it was prior to 2000 when the threshold was lowered to 3.25. The change will take effect with the class of 2015.

TECHNOLOGY—Technology coordinator Becky Short gave her final report to the board. She will begin a new job with the Northwest Ohio Education Service Center. Short will continue to help Fayette for some tasks, but most of her duties will be delegated to other staff members.

DONATIONS—The board accepted an anonymous donation of $95 to pay for a substitute teacher during the senior trip and $500 from the Fayette Area Foundation for band equipment.

CONTRACTS—Two-year limited contracts were approved for Kelly Barkhimer, Sarah Weiland and Marilyn Kinsman. A continuing contract was approved for Pamela Wise and a one-year contract for Lisa Hintz.

TRIPS—The senior trip to Florida was changed to include on overnight stay in Detroit at the start of the trip. The board approved a request for a girls basketball camp trip to the University of North Carolina June 25-July 3.

COACHES—The board approved the following coaching assignments for the next school year: one-year contracts for Bryan Stambaugh, cross country; Matt Maginn, assistant cross country; Alissa Stockburger, varsity/JV volleyball; Todd Mitchell, assistant golf; Matt Maginn, JV boys basketball; and Alissa Stockburger, varsity cheerleading.

Three year contracts were approved for Ryan Colegrove, golf, and Todd Mitchell, varsity boys basketball.

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