Morenci school board 2013.03.06

Written by David Green.

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.”

  • 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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