Morenci school survey reviewed 2013.03.13

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The Morenci school district received grades similar to most other schools in the county from a survey organized by the Lenawee ISD. Overall favorability stands at about 77 percent among all county schools.

In Morenci, teachers were chosen as the district's greatest asset by a much larger margin than the county average, however, the percentage of parents saying the school district is heading in the right direction was lower.

More than a thousand county residents were randomly chosen from those living in the 11 public school districts for a telephone survey undertaken in December. 

"All superintendents worked together to shape questions," said Morenci superintendent Michael Osborne, then the research firm of Banach, Banach and Cassidy developed the survey. The survey was given a 95 percent level of confidence for accuracy, with a sampling error rate of ±2.9 percent. This means the data from any particular survey question could actually be about three percent higher or lower.

The public's attitudes about locals schools showed general satisfaction, Osborne said.

In the Morenci district, 67 parents of students were questioned, along with 20 residents who don't have children in school.

Respondents were asked to give their district an overall grade and 75 percent gave Morenci A and B grades. Twenty-seven percent of parents awarded the district an A and 10 percent of non-parents gave an A. All county schools together received A and B grades from 77 percent of those surveyed.

Morenci's educational program received an 80 percent positive rating (all A and B grades) compared to 79 percent county-wide. Parents were much more likely to award an A grade. 

Fifty-eight percent gave the school board a positive rating, however 15 percent gave no grade at all. The quality of teaching garnered a 72 percent favorable rating (79 for the county), and again, parents gave a much higher grade than non-parents.

Administrators earned a 58 percent favorability rating in Morenci compared to 72 percent in the county total. Twelve percent of the Morenci residents gave no response.

In the final questions receiving a grade, 62 percent said the school adequately prepares students for careers and work (with no response from 10 percent) and an equal number gave a positive response about preparing students for college (no response from 11 percent).

Residents were then asked their opinions on a variety of school-related topics, starting with the main barriers to prevent local students from attending college. Forty percent faulted the cost of college, 10 percent cited a lack of help from counselors and other school officials, and 18 percent gave no response. About a quarter of the non-parents spoke of a lack of scholarships and financial aid.

In Morenci, 47 percent of respondents said they were very well informed about school issues and 33 were somewhat informed. Newspapers were cited as the chief source of information, followed by friends and neighbors, classroom teachers, and students. In other districts, the school website was listed as the main source of information by parents. For non-parents, 43 percent of Morenci residents listed the newspaper as the main source and 28 percent did county-wide.

Respondents listed curriculum issues as the type of information they are most interested in, followed by school events, financial information and test scores. Information about athletics was ranked low on the list.

Teachers were rated as the greatest strength of the school district (30 percent by Morenci parents and 22 percent county-wide; 40 percent by non-parents and 19 percent county-wide). The small-town environment was next on the list of strengths. 

Half of those questioned listed finances as the district's greatest challenge—much higher than the county-wide figure—while bullying, curriculum improvement and finding qualified staff members were much further down the list.

Residents are well aware of efforts to trim costs and they favor collaboration and sharing staff by a 64-31 margin. Contracting with private companies for services such as bus drivers and custodial chores was supported only 34 to 56 percent, and consolidation with another district was given even worse favorability, 25 to 68.

More than half of Morenci respondents are opposed to a marketing program to recruit students from other school districts. The development of additional charter schools was viewed unfavorably, 13-66. Ninety-two percent of Morenci residents see the school as a safe place for students.

Supt. Osborne sees potential problems with passage of the May 7 bond vote because 78 percent of those surveyed saw no need for renovation and repair of school facilities. The bond vote will ask residents to extend an existing bond for the purpose of maintenance needs. The school board will need to educate residents about the physical needs of the school district.

About 67 percent said the quality of the Morenci school district is the same or better than neighboring districts—about 10 percent less than the county average—and an equal number said that Morenci offers enough extracurricular activities.

The lunch program was rated 64-30 for nutritious meals and efforts to eliminate bullying was rated 70-20.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the survey for Morenci administrators came at the end of the questioning when 64 percent indicated the district is headed in the right direction. For the county as a whole, the figure stood at 80 percent.

Parents were asked why they think families might enroll their children in neighboring districts. A stronger academic program was listed by 21 percent, better discipline and better teachers each were listed by 15 percent. Four of the 67 parents interviewed send their children to other districts. Percentages were similar throughout the county.

The LISD TECH Center program was seen positively by about 75 percent of those interviewed; 11 percent had no opinion.

  • 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.
  • Shadow.salon
    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.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • 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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