By DAVID GREEN
Morenci students, parents and staff learned Friday through the school district’s alert system that a big change was ahead at the high school.
The message stated that when classes resume on Tuesday following a teacher development day, the high school office will be closed, with operations consolidated in the larger middle school office.
The office of assistant principal Phil Stark and secretary Cindy Fankhauser are now both located at the middle school where secondary principal Kelli Campbell has her office.
Counselor Diana Fallot remains in the old high school office that’s now referred to as the counseling office. She will begin using additional space for counseling. As testing coordinator, she will also have space to store materials and prepare for testing dates.
Secretary Deb Yatzek will work in the high school office in the mornings, Campbell said, and the new student success coach—a position expected to be filled for the start of the second trimester—will work in the corner classroom across from the high school office.
Additional adult supervision will be provided by Campbell and Stark as they continue to split time between the two school buildings.
High school students will enter the building through the east doors only, by the main parking lot. All doors to the school will remain locked at all times after 7:50 a.m. Students arriving late for school, along with parents and other school visitors, must now enter through the middle school front doors and report to the main office.
Discussion about the change began last year, said superintendent Michael Osborne, and was originally scheduled to take effect at the start of the school year.
Osborne said there are schools of similar size that function with a single office between two buildings and he doesn’t think it’s necessary to maintain two. He believes the adjustment will largely be a matter of accepting a change in the way things have always been. Think about Adrian High School, he said, that has three floors but only a single office.
An administrator couldn’t be in all places at once even when the high school office was open, he said. Teachers must continue to help monitor hallways between classes.
There are some issues that need to be addressed, he said, such as the intercom system. Having the office in the old location probably did prevent some discipline problems, he said, and attention will have to be given toward adequately covering the change.
Osborne sees the potential for cost savings, particularly if the board office is moved to the high school as the board of education has discussed.
“We’re in the process of putting together a deficit elimination plan that will address several areas,” he said. “We’ll put together some options for the board to consider.”
About 75 percent of school revenue goes toward salaries and benefits, Osborne said, and he’s now taking a closer look at the remaining 15 percent.
Negotiations with teachers will be coming, he said, and he wants them to know the administration has looked at all facets of the school in an effort to cut costs.