The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.skelton.vigil
    MORENCI’S three Skelton brothers were remembered with both tears and laughter last week during a candlelight vigil at Wakefield Park. Several people came out of the crowd to give their recollection of the boys who have now been missing for five years.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.

Fayette Local Schools hires Erik Belcher 2012.07.04

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

erik.belcherFayette’s board of education found what it was looking for and hired a new administrator to fill the dual role of superintendent and elementary school principal.

The board met for a special session Thursday morning to hire North Central’s elementary principal Erik Belcher. Belcher emerged as the top choice among a dozen candidates and was signed to a three-year contract with an annual salary of $90,000.

The board also accepted the resignation of superintendent Russ Griggs, effective at the end of July, and then hired him to serve as a consultant for one month to assist with Belcher’s transition. He will be paid $335 for each day that he works.

When Fayette’s former elementary school principal Dr. Luann Boyer announced her retirement in May, Griggs suggested that the board consider hiring someone to fill a dual administrative role since his contract as a part-time superintendent would expire in 2013.

Making the move to Fayette wasn’t an easy decision for Belcher, but he’s convinced he’s making the right choice.

“I love the people here at North Central,” Belcher said, “but I’ve wanted to lead a district and I thought the Fayette position was a good way to grow professionally.”

One thing that appealed to him with the new Fayette arrangement is that he will continue to have direct contact with students.

Belcher grew up in West Unity and attended Adrian College where he played basketball. He served as a third grade teacher for 10 years with the Allen East district in Harrod, Ohio, near Lima, and also taught junior high history there for three years.

He earned a master’s degree from the University of Dayton in 2008 and was hired by the North Central district in Pioneer as the elementary school principal.

He will wrap up his superintendent licensure this summer through the University of Findlay.

Belcher speaks highly of Griggs’s school leadership.

“He does what’s best for kids,” Belcher said, “and it will make my job easier to follow someone like Russ Griggs.”

Griggs, a veteran of 38 years in public education, finished out his career as a part-time superintendent at Fayette. He served as a superintendent for 31 years at various districts and often worked on an interim basis.

The top leadership spot has remained fairly stable in Fulton County over recent years, Griggs said, but this year five of seven districts will have changes.

Griggs was with the Fayette district for four years, arriving when the new building project was half completed.

“A strength of this district is the smooth relations among board members, staff and the community,” he said. 

Tough financial situations often lead to contentious times, he said, but that hasn’t been the case at Fayette. Contracts are in place, there are no audit findings, the special education program was recently approved, and the district is achieving “excellent” ratings through the state testing program.

Belcher will be coming into a stable situation, Griggs said, other than continual financial problems. A millage will be needed in a year or two.

With fewer students and fewer teachers, the new combined position is a good example of shared services, said school treasurer Kelly Bentley. Planning was already underway to reduce the hours for the principal position, and with the combined job, the district will save about $2,000 annually from current costs.

The combined role will be a challenge for Belcher, Griggs said, but staff members are already accustomed to a part-time administrator who isn’t always in the office.

Belcher’s contract begins Aug. 1.

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