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.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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