Morenci school board 2013.02.06

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s board of education is expected to meet Feb. 25 to officially call for a bond election and kick off the campaign for approval of a levy extension.

Board trustee Phil McCaskey said during a committee meeting Monday that he has already heard misconceptions stated about the bond, namely that it will increase taxes.

The bond, which would fund a variety of maintenance needs, would actually be an extension of an existing levy due to expire. By taking this approach, taxpayers would see no change in the amount of taxes money paid for school projects. The bond cannot be used for general operation of the district, such as salaries.

The bond vote is scheduled May 7 and board members intend to participate in meetings with staff members and the public prior to that.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne suggested two sets of meetings. First, he thinks the board and administrators should meet with staff and the public prior to the Feb. 25 meeting to speak about the bond and also about possible reductions to cut costs.

“If we’re going to talk about the bond issue, why not discuss the reduction proposals, also?” he said.

For example, he said, there’s been some recent talk about moving the fifth grade classes back to the elementary school. This and other proposals need to be put before the public to obtain taxpayers’ responses and to collect ideas.

The meetings would follow the format of “here’s what we’re thinking,” Osborne said, rather than “this is what we’re doing” because at this point no firm decisions have been made.

“We need to get the conversation going,” Osborne said. 

“The only way to do that is to have an actual discussion about it,” said board president Scott Merillat, “and that can be hard.”

Questions about the proposals might come after the meetings, he said, because many people don’t feel comfortable speaking out at a meeting.

Once the specifics are nailed down—both for what projects the bond will address and for what cuts are planned—then, Osborne said, a second set of meetings can be scheduled to convince taxpayers that the bond is essential to the school district.

PERSONNEL—Sherri Dillon was hired to serve as the technology lab paraprofessional, replacing Laura Desmet. Josiah Fallot was hired to serve as a middle school Title I paraprofessional to replace Heather Dilworth.

The board learned that middle school teacher Deb Williams will retire at the end of the school year.

Supt. Osborne expressed his appreciation for her long service with the district, and also for announcing the retirement in advance to help with planning for the next year.

DRIVERS—Osborne thanked the district’s transportation staff while noting that February is School Bus Driver Appreciation Month.

  • Front.train
    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
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    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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    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    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.
  • Front.winner
    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.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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