Morenci school board 2012.11.07

Written by David Green.


A retired police officer was selected from among 29 applicants to fill the new “success coach” job at Morenci Area High School.

Jay Nieman of rural Hudson was hired Monday by the Morenci Board of Education to fill the new position after a selection committee interviewed 13 candidates. He is the husband of high school science teacher Kerry Nieman.

Secondary principal Kelli Campbell described the new position as having two main components: to serve as an academic coach for students at risk of not graduating; to coordinate in-school suspensions. Campbell said that Nieman will also work toward behavior modification for students with discipline problems.

In addition to serving as a police officer, Nieman has experience working with at-risk students and serving as an athletic coach.

GOLF—Board members voted to change the boys spring golf program to an unsponsored sport. The program would continue to operate as it has in the past—eligibility rules are still followed and tournament opportunities continue—but the sport would no longer receive any funding from the school.

Board members discussed the future of the golf program at a previous meeting due to the low number of participants. Changing back to a sponsored sport would require only another vote by the board.

A combined golf program with Waldron was approved by other league schools. Morenci’s returning golfer told the board during a committee meeting that several other Morenci students expressed interest in golfing and four or five Waldron students want to join the team.

As an unsponsored sport, students would have to come up with funds to pay greens fees, tournament entry fees and other costs, if needed, such as transportation and coaches salary.

Robyn Taylor, the mother of Morenci golfer Kendrick Taylor, said that some students would have difficulty paying the costs, especially after buying clubs.

“If the numbers are there,” said personnel committee chair Phil McCaskey, “we need to rebuild the program.”

Superintendent of schools Michael Osborne cautioned that some cuts in athletics will likely be needed as the districts works to leave a deficit financial situation.

Athletic director Phil Stark told board members that participation for wrestling and competitive cheer are both higher than last year.

BOWLING—The board voted to continue the bowling program as a club sport, with volunteer coach Bruce Hite. A club sport also follows all school athletic rules. Bowling doesn’t take “unsponsored” status like the golf team because it has never been a sponsored sport in the past.

COACHES—Renae Schaffner was hired to serve as girls seventh grade basketball coach and Mitch Clark was approved as a volunteer wrestling assistant coach.

CONTRACTS—Three-year contracts were approved for bus drivers, food service workers and the elementary school custodian.

BUS—The board approved the sale of bus number 10 to Kalamazoo Metal Recyclers for $2,153. Transportation coordinator Devon Vernier stripped all parts from the bus that could be used on other vehicles.

The bus fleet received another 100 percent rating from the last inspection.

SCHOOL OF CHOICE—Audience member Peggy Decker asked if anyone follows up on students who leave the district to attend school elsewhere. She suggested that board members make phone calls to ask what could be done to bring the students back.

Supt. Osborne said there often isn’t an opportunity to contact a family. He knows that some students have chosen a district with less demanding academic requirements.

DEFICIT—Osborne said that administrators are working on a Financial Recovery Plan to present to the state. Districts with a deficit have three years to get back into the black before state officials can step in take control.

Meetings with staff and community members will be scheduled before a final plan is brought to the board for approval.

CONCESSIONS—McCaskey said the outdoor concession stand is in dire need of improvements. The athletic booster group is willing to handle updates to get the facility ready for a class to operate in the spring and fall, however, the Boosters want some accountability from groups that sell concessions.

Campbell said she would create a schedule for classes and work with groups to make sure they know when to work. Board member Ivy Hutchison suggested creating a checklist for classes to fill out at the start and the end of a season.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Front.cross
    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.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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