By DAVID GREEN
Morenci Board of Education members filled some staff positions Monday night and heard questions from an audience member about the operation of the district.
Lucie Mansfield was hired through Title I funds to work with kindergarten students on mathematics and reading skills. She has worked as a substitute in the district for more than two years.
Dawn Williams was hired to fill a vacancy in the middle school. She will offer remedial help to fifth grade students and provide cafeteria supervision.
Three coaches were approved by the board. Megan Petticrew will assist Dan Hoffman as middle school track coach. Phil Stark was hired as head baseball coach and Waldron graduate Mike Blood will assist him.
The board approved the impending retirement of veteran elementary school teacher Robin Borton.
Her classroom is always a pleasure to visit, said superintendent Michael Osborne. He stated his appreciation for her early retirement announcement to assist the board with planning for the next school year.
GOLF—Student Kendrick Taylor gave an update on the golf program, stating there are now four students who intend to participate this spring.
About $400 was brought in through fund-raising efforts, he said, but he’s still seeking financial support from the school. If it’s not forthcoming, Taylor said he has an offer from the Hudson golf coach who would allow Morenci’s team to compete with the Hudson program.
QUESTIONS—Audience member Jason Schmidt asked a series of questions about the operation of the school.
Schmidt asked about the management structure of the district and wondered about how often administrators are out in the hallways and in classrooms. If interaction is infrequent, he wondered how management of the buildings is accomplished.
He asked about the training of new staff members and whether or not they’re clear about their responsibilities.
“Who keeps them accountable for what they’re supposed to be doing?” he asked.
Schmidt said that secretaries and paraprofessionals are often involved in discipline issues and he wondered if that’s their responsibility.
Some staff members arrive before their contracted time, give up their lunch break and stay an hour after school in an effort to accomplish their jobs, he said.
“There are hourly employees who are donating two and a half hours a day in order to get their jobs done due to cuts,” he said. “I understand cuts, but when they ask for some compensation to make up some of that, it’s like pulling teeth.”
Schmidt encouraged board members to talk to parents to learn why they’re frustrated with the district and why some are considering other educational options.
Schmidt urged more interaction between administrators and other staff members so those in charge can understand what employees are going through in order to keep the district operating smoothly.
Supt. Osborne responded by saying that Schmidt’s questions were good ones for the board to discuss and to respond to later.
Board member Ivy Hutchison said she wants the public to know that many of the concerns Schmidt mentioned have been discussed by the board. In many cases, she said, there’s no simple answer.
Laura Spencer said community involvement is essential and she thanked Schmidt for standing up and asking the questions and addressing issues of concern.
“We need community support and we need community involvement,” she said. “That’s the only thing that’s going to help us get through these tough times.”
“Your advocacy is great, Jason,” trustee Phil McCaskey said. “I wish more people in the community would get involved.”
He urged Schmidt to discuss issues with principals, also, noting that many questions could probably be answered before coming to the board.
“Whatever it takes, we’re all in this together,” McCaskey said. “It takes a community to raise these kids. It takes a community to educate these kids.”