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.