By DAVID GREEN
Scott Merillat was chosen to lead Morenci’s Board of Education for another term when the board met for the annual organizational meeting Monday.
Other officers are Carrie Dillon, vice president; Cyndee Sanders, secretary; and Phil McCaskey, treasurer.
New board member Laura Spencer took the oath of office, along with Ivy Hutchison who elected to a new term.
Committee assignments are: curriculum, Hutchison (chair) and Sanders; building and site, McCaskey (chair) and Dillon; finance, McCaskey (chair) and Spencer; personnel, Sanders (chair) and Hutchison; and policy, Spencer (chair) and Dillon.
Dillon and Hutchison will also serve on the shared services committee that meets with representatives from the Hudson Board of Education.
McCaskey urged the public to attend committee meetings and offer opinions about school issues. Audience member Pat Houttekier suggested that committee meeting schedules be posted on the school website to avoid the need to check the small bulletin board on the front of the board office.
Three 30-minute committee meetings are scheduled at 5:30 p.m. prior to the regular board meeting, but the schedule changes from month to month.
CONTRACTS—Following the organizational meeting, administrative contracts were renewed at the regular July meeting.
One-year extensions—through June 30, 2014—were approved for Mary Fisher, elementary dean of students; Taz Wallace, athletic director and behavior specialist; Erica Metcalf, finance director; and Tim Kruse, building engineer.
A one-year extension for executive assistant Kay Holubik expires June 30, 2012.
No compensation is listed in the contract and each carries the possibility of a 30-day layoff notice regardless of the expiration date.
Negotiations with the teaching staff continue, said superintendent Michael Osborne, and he stated his appreciation for the patience of everyone involved.
“There are lots of difficult issues and a lot to work through,” he said, “but I think we’re making progress.”
He praised Wallace and principal Kelli Campbell for tackling several issues in preparation for the new school year. Certain staffing issues have yet to be resolved and some of those depend on negotiations.
Osborne said the administration continues to look at cooperative arrangements with other districts as a way to cut costs.
“Our goal is to not lose the identify of Morenci Area Schools,” he said. “The school is very important to the community and we want to preserve it.”
LIBRARY—Campbell noted that middle school teacher Sally Kruger has devoted considerable time this summer to cleaning and organizing the library.
OFFICE—Merillat said there’s been discussion about using one central office for the high school and middle school. Staff members are examining the pros and cons of the change as they think about how it would function.
WEIGHT ROOM—Three community members expressed their dissatisfaction with the new weight room policy.
Matt Grieder said that he doesn’t think the athletic director sufficiently sought public opinion before making the change.
The new policy was created to address safety and security concerns. In the past, several community members had a key to the facility and would open it for others to use. It was a system that worked really well, Grieder said.
“It worked well for you, but not for the district,” Merillat responded. “We’re trying to get some structure to it.”
Merillat said there were times when adult supervision was lacking and it was impossible to know who had a key.
Wallace added that occasionally children ages two or three were in the weight room, adding to safety concerns.
With the new policy, volunteer supervisors are approved by the athletic director, but so far, no supervisors have been approved for the 5 to 9 p.m. slot. Because of his job, Grieder said he hasn’t been able to use the facility at all this month.
Grieder said he’s willing to serve as a supervisor during that period, but he isn’t able to be there every day. He doesn’t want to have his name posted on the door as a supervisor and then not be able to fulfill the obligation.
Lance Thompson suggested that the administration is “putting up hoops” until the public won’t be welcome anymore. That’s not the board’s intent, Merillat responded. Structure is needed for use of the weight room, he said, the same as for any of the other school facilities.