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.