Morenci school board 2011.09.14

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Some years enrollment just keeps building in one particular class and that’s what’s happening in Morenci this year.

Morenci’s fifth grade class now has 74 students—two new ones enrolled Monday—and board of education members voted Monday to open a third section.

That decision led to the recall of laid-off teacher Paula Grieder, although administrators have not yet decided how staff might be shuffled. Grieder previously worked with the younger grades.

The decision to open another fifth grade classroom was made shortly before Monday’s board meeting.

“Enrollment is staying steady from last year,” said school superintendent Michael Osborne, “and we have more students than we budgeted for.”

That’s a good problem, he said, but now administrators must decide how to best serve the students.

“We made cuts and now we’re looking at how we can support the larger class sizes,” Osborne said.

That decision will be based on several factors, such as contractual language that specifies the use of classroom aides when class size surpasses a fixed level and also physical considerations—how many students can comfortably fit in the room.

Administrators also consider the subject being taught and the students in a particular class.

The second and fourth grade classes are large enough to demand an aide by contract, Osborne said, but additional help will also be given to make sure math and reading skills are achieved.

Enrollment tends to fluctuate early in the school year and administrators are hesitant to make firm decisions when the numbers still might be in flux. The number of transient families has increased in recent years, Osborne said, not just in Morenci but also in neighboring communities.

“We hate to move too quickly [in making staff changes],” he said, “but when we know there are problems, we want to take action as quickly as possible.”

The state’s official count day doesn’t come until Oct. 5 this year. 

The fifth grade class with 74 students has increased by nine compared to a year ago when the students were starting fourth grade. The largest class last year was the fifth grade with 68 students, but three classes showed enrollment in the 40s.

RESIGNATIONS—At the September board meeting Monday, commemorative clocks were given to bus drivers Grace Popejoy, Pat Houttekier and Carollyn Keller in honor of their service to the district. All three retired during the past year.

TICKETS—The approved a change in athletic event ticket prices for Morenci students only. The cost is now set at $1.

COACHES—Joel Howland and Levi Hoffman were approved as volunteer football coaches.

ADMISSION—The board approved a $1 reduction in the cost of admission to sporting events for student tickets.

NEGOTIATIONS—The board met in a closed session to discuss negotiations with teachers.

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    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.
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    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.
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    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.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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