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.