Morenci school board 2011.09.14

Written 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.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.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
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    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in 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.
  • Front.crossing
    Crossing over—Jim Heiney was given a U.S. flag to carry by George Vereecke (behind Jim in the hat), turning him into the leader of the parade. Bridge Walk participants cross over Bean Creek while, in the background, members of the Morenci Legion Riders cross the main traffic bridge on East Street South. Additional photos appear on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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