By DAVID GREEN
The Morenci Board of Education is expected to hire an interim assistant principal in a special meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Following the resignation of athletic director/behavioral specialist Taz Wallace two weeks ago, a notice was posted to hire a temporary athletic director/assistant principal for the remainder of the school year. Twelve applications were received and interviewing got underway Monday.
Many athletic director duties are covered, said Morenci Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Osborne, but the most critical need is for someone to address discipline issues during the school day.
Osborne said the administration is acting quickly on the matter and he expects to have someone in place by the start of school next week, if not earlier.
He will begin seeking a permanent employee within a few weeks. The key, he said, is to make sure the right person is found to cover both the athletic director position and assistant principal duties.
He also expects to begin the search for a new football coach within a few weeks.
ASSESSMENT—Secondary principal Kelli Campbell and elementary principal Mary Fisher reviewed the recently released state test scores and pointed out both upward trends and some drops in scores.
“There are 18 tests total in grades three through nine and we were in the top five in the county on five of those tests,” Campbell said. “We increased our proficiency on 11 out of 18 tests, and if you’re looking at the state improvement average, we were above that average on nine out of 18 tests.”
When scores are released, she said, staff begins analyzing the results.
“Ms. Fisher and I have come up with a few strategies to improve our scores,” Campbell said. “One thing we’re going to continue to do is the literacy program which includes intervention.”
They also intend to focus more on what the state refers to as “partially proficient” students—those who didn’t meet the proficiency standard but were close. An analysis of scores will determine where they fell short and remediation will be given.
It might be interesting to look at the trend of scores and to compare districts, but what’s more important for school staff, Campbell said, is to follow each class of students through the grades to see how they’re improving or going down.
The literacy program started with the youngest students, Fisher said, and is now used throughout the elementary school. She expects this effort to show positive results.
Annual MEAP scores get the most press, Osborne said, but he agreed with the other administrators that the most value in the program comes from studying the data to determine what’s missing from the curriculum.
What he really appreciates about the teachers’ response is how they’re looking at the data and turning it into action to fill in gaps in the curriculum.
BULLYING—Campbell said that a bullying awareness program will be implemented in the middle school during the third trimester.
The effort is expected to help students identify forms of bullying and to suggest ways to respond. The program will be presented during the daily 25-minute seminar period.
BULLDOG APPLAUSE—Campbell told about the start of a program to highlight exemplary actions by students and school staff. Nominations can be submitted by anyone, including community members. Forms are available on the school website or at the high school and middle school offices.
She read the first “applause” submitted. Student Brennen Mellon and his mother, Stacy, recognized teacher Karen Shaner for her ability to understand and assist students. She was described as a teacher who can make a difference in a child’s life.
PERSONNEL—Tenure was granted to elementary school teachers Keith Filipek and Paula Grieder.
Both have proven themselves to be excellent teachers, Fisher said, and she’s pleased to keep them in the Morenci school system.
The resignation of middle school football coach Fred Love was accepted. It was estimated that he’s served in that role for at least 17 years.
BAND—Morenci’s high school band will join with Camden-Frontier and Reading again this year for a series of three Master Works concerts. The effort gives three small bands the experience of performing together as a large band. The Morenci concert is scheduled at 7 p.m. March 20.
A middle school band concert is planned at 6 p.m. March 29.
RENEWAL—The board voted to move the 18-mill operating millage vote to Aug. 7. By pairing the vote with the state primary, the cost of the election can be split with the city. The millage brings in about $372,000 in operating funds.