Morenci school board 2011.07.20

Written by David Green.

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.

  • 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.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    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.
  • Front.poles
    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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