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.

  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • 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.
  • 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.soccer.balls
    BEVY OF BALLS—Stair District Library Summer Reading Program VolunTeens, including Libby Rorick, back left and Ty Kruse, back right, threw a dozen inflatable soccer balls into the crowd during a reading of “Sergio Saves the Game.” The sports-themed program continues on Wednesdays through July 27.

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