School Changes: Situation brings optimism 2013.06.05

Written by David Green.

Talk to someone from another city and you might get the impression that Morenci schools are in turmoil. All three administrators are leaving and it must be horrible. It seems to be a rather unique situation until you look across the county to Clinton where the same thing has happened, but for different reasons.

Clinton has solved part of its problem by creating one for Morenci—hiring elementary school principal Mary Fisher—who will be missed by staff, students and parents alike. The standing ovation she received at the board meeting Monday was a testament to her service.

What many people outside the community don't realize is that the district's administrative situation isn't viewed by everybody as a terrible thing. Instead, it's seen as an opportunity. Even the loss of a beloved principal such as Fisher will open new possibilities for the district.

The changes are an opportunity because the district's administrative structure must be rebuilt. The days of working with a full-time superintendent and a principal in all three buildings has long passed. Cuts have been made over the years, and it's remarkable to look back at the staffing changes from 10 years ago. The changes from 20 years ago are rather startling, however, the changes in enrollment over those years are also startling, along with changes in revenue.

Discussions about the situation with school staff members and a broad range of district residents often points in the same direction. A unifying force is needed, someone to heal the wounds that have arisen and to pull staff members together despite continuing financial adversity. 

The name generally mentioned is retired teacher and administrator Kay Johnson. We're pleased to hear that she's still willing to help—despite being passed by in two earlier offers—and we hope board of education members think seriously about finding a role for her in the new administration. We know that many school staff members are optimistic about the district's future and they like the idea of a familiar, proven administrator such as Johnson. It's no secret that staff members are also worried about what the board might decide.

Administrative turmoil probably gives the district a bad reputation around the county, but readers of this paper should be well aware of the many achievements of Morenci students, led by a competent staff.

These aren't terrible times for the school district; they're exciting times. Challenging, for sure, but full of opportunity. Now it's up to school board members to make the opportunity a good one.

  • Front.batter
    THE DERBY—Tyler “Smallpox” Flakne of Minnesota’s Home Run League All-Stars goes for the fence Friday night during the National Wiffle League Association’s home run derby in Morenci. This year the wiffleball national tournament moved from Dublin, Ohio, to Morenci’s Wakefield Park. During the derby, competitors had two minutes to hit as many home runs as possible. The winner this year finished with 21. See page 6 and 7 for additional photos.
  • Front.green Screen
    OUT OF THIS WORLD—Elizabeth McFadden and Elise Christle pose in front of the green screen as VolunTeen Noah Gilson makes them appear as though they are standing on the Moon. More photos from the Stair District Library’s NASA @ My Library program are on page 12.
  • Front.snake
    Lannis Smith of the Leslie Science and Nature Center in Ann Arbor shows off a python last week at Stair District Library's Summer Reading Program.
  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.rock Study
    ROCKHOUNDS—From the left, Joseph McCullough, Sean Pagett and Jonathan McCullough peer through hand lenses to study rocks. The project is part of Morenci Elementary School’s summer camp that continues into August.

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