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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