By DAVID GREEN
A 13-year member of the Morenci Board of Education was honored last week at his final meeting.
Gary Ries first joined the board in April 1999 when he was appointed to fill a vacancy. He was elected two months later to fill out the vacancy, then elected to his first full term in 2000.
Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne noted that Ries has served through some very busy times, some very difficult times and some joyous times.
"For the many issues you've helped guide us through, we offer our thanks and appreciation," Osborne said.
Newly-elected member Larry Bruce will join the board in January.
BUS—Osborne said the safety of students is a primary concern of school staff, and that includes the transportation system. The district's buses received a 100 percent inspection rating for two years in a row—not an easy thing to do, he said.
Osborne recognized transportation director Devon Vernier and mechanic Fred Wegner for their efforts.
Osborne noted that a discussion occurred about safety concerns in the school bus parking loop. An "alert" notice was sent to parents reminding them not to drive in the loop when buses are parked there. Additionally, traffic cones are now placed at the entrances of the loop.
STAFF—Board members approved the following: Zach Craig, volunteer middle school boys basketball coach; Robyn Taylor, volunteer cheerleading coach; Emilie Beach, eighth grade girls basketball coach; and Brandy Woodring, part-time account clerk.
The board accepted the resignation of elementary school secretary Karen Wood. She also served as the alert message coordinator and put in a lot of extra effort, Osborne said. She is returning to a banking job that's closer to her home.
Laura Desmet, a paraprofessional who worked in the media lab, also resigned to take a position closer to her home.
Board members approved a settlement with former staff member Deb Hertler.
T.E.A.M. TIME—Counselor Diana Fallot explained the new T.E.A.M. Time program in the high school and middle school. The final 35 minutes of each Wednesday is spent with groups of 14 to 18 students and a teacher.
The program allows students from different grade levels to get to know one another better, Fallot said, and gives students the opportunity to develop some "soft skills" that aren't always learned in the classroom.
BAND—Osborne noted that at the recent band concert, the bleachers were completely full. The middle school, the high school band and the new jazz band all performed.
SERVICE—Due to a change in scheduling, teacher Sally Kruger told the board that the middle school Jr. Volunteer Club went by the wayside. Instead, she's using the final 30 minutes of her career class to take on various service projects. For example, she said, a library crew prepares the media center for board meetings. The class has also assumed responsibility for collecting recyclables in the school.
ANNOUNCER—Board member Phil McCaskey noted that an announcer is needed for the varsity girls basketball games.
POLICY—Policy updates from the company that reviews school policy books are now sent to all board members electronically.