Morenci school board 2013.01.09

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci school’s general fund deficit has shrunk to $83,000 for the current school year and administrators are still hoping to reduce that amount by the time the school year ends.

For the following school year, however, the battle will begin all over again with a deficit expected to top $314,000.

“Overall we’re in a better situation,” said  finance director Erica Metcalf, “but we have a lot of work to do. There’s a flicker of hope that we can get there this year.”

Metcalf told school board members Monday how the financial picture has changed since her budget forecast was made last summer.

Improvements include a $37,000 insurance payment from a lightning strike that occurred in 2011; A $40,000 carryover in Title I funds, a change in special education funding; a change in transportation reimbursement from the LISD; an increase in At-Risk funding; and payment of delinquent taxes from Schoeller Arca Systems—the successor of Palm Plastics.

Overall, she said, there were several factors that she was unsure about when the budget was written.

The board approved an updated budget showing a deficit of $83,000, but Metcalf said she expects a smaller number by the end of the school year. In April, after winter tax payments are in and weather-related costs are known, she will have a much better idea of where the district stands.

“We’ve done a lot, but we have a lot to do,” she said. “When you look past June 30, it’s doom and gloom all over again.”

Board member Laura Spencer said she’s pleased with the improvement in the general fund, but as a CPA she would vote against the update because a deficit budget is not allowed.

Next year, she said, if the district takes no action there truly will be a $300,000 deficit because there’s no more fund balance to carry over.

Superintendent Dr. Michael Osborne distributed a list of proposed cuts to board members at a committee meeting laying out his plan for attacking the deficit for the 2013-14 school year.

Meetings will be scheduled with staff members and community members to discuss the cuts. Osborne expects board action to occur at the Feb. 4 meeting.

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    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
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    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
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    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
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    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
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    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
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    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.

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