Morenci school board 2013.04.10

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

To move or not to move. That's the decision the Morenci Board of  Education is pondering with a proposal to move fifth grade students back to the elementary school.

Morenci followed the usual kindergarten through fifth grade alignment until the new middle school was built and fifth grade students then joined sixth graders in one wing of the school.

The proposal to move the students back to the elementary school building has been mentioned from time to time in the past, explained superintendent Michael Osborne, and it was recently suggested as a cost-cutting move. 

Actually, he told board of education members Monday, there's little savings involved, but there are other reasons, such as the interaction with the other elementary school teachers.

"I want to make sure the public has a chance to weigh in before we make a decision," he said.

Elementary school principal Mary Fisher said the move makes sense academically and developmentally. In terms of administration, she's still responsible for fifth grade students.

Fifth grade teacher Melissa Elliott said at the start of the year she heard some frustration expressed by her students about the behavior of the older pupils, but it was a matter of observing the older ones rather than having negative encounters with them.

"I think we're a good fit here," she said, "but I think it would work well at either location."

The move would probably mean the end of her life-long learning class that uses the kitchen facilities at the middle school.

"It's been great for parental interaction," Elliott said.

"That really is disappointing to me," said board member Laura Spencer, who appreciates what the class has done for her son.

Osborne said two classrooms would be needed for next year's fifth grade class. He's hoping to hear opinions from parents before the board makes a decision next month.

Fisher mentioned that 13 new students have enrolled at the elementary school in the past month.

OFFICE—The business office move to the former high school offices is complete. Visitors should enter the school through the middle school entrance on Page Street.

STAFF—Christine Grondlin was hired to assist high school success coach Jay Neiman. Grondlin has served as a substitute teacher in area schools for several years, Osborne said, and he expects her to be a great addition to the staff.

Neiman’s work has produced many positive outcomes, Osborne added, and Grondlin will allow 15 more students to participate in the program that assists students who are falling behind academically. During her interview, Grondlin presented several good ideas for motivating students, said secondary principal Kelli Campbell.

Grondlin’s will be paid with At-Risk program funds.

Mike Taylor was approved as the volunteer head golf coach.

CONTRACTS—The board approved contract extensions with Road Runner for custodial services and with T&R Total Lawn Care for grounds services.

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