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.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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