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.

  • 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.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • 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.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • 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.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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