Morenci school board 2013.06.12

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

School finances might show some improvement in the next fiscal year, predicts Morenci finance director Erica Metcalf.

Metcalf went through various plusses and minuses for the 2013-14 school year at a board of education committee meeting June 3. She sees possible increases in some areas and declines in revenue in others, but overall Metcalf sees more positives than in recent years.

“It’s the first crack that we’ve seen collectively as a state, an indication that there’s hope,” she said. “While this is good news, we’ve still got a battle to fight.”

Enrollment levels will remain an unknown until school gets underway in September and some funding sources are not clear.

The annual budget hearing is scheduled at 7 p.m. June 26 and Metcalf hopes to have more information by then.

She put funding into perspective by noting that the projected revenue for the next school year is still lower than what the district received seven years ago. Meanwhile, retirement and insurance costs have increased during that time while enrollment has dropped significantly.

“With the foundation allowance less than it was in 2006-07, shouldn’t we roll salaries back to where they were then?” asked board president Scott Merillat.

It’s very alarming to look at the reductions, Metcalf said.

“There’s still a lot of work to do and a lot can happen between now and [the start of school],” she said.

“We need to look back at 2006-07 to see what we were doing back then to make things work at that level,” said board member Laura Spencer.

Enrollment has shrunk by nearly 100 students since then, Metcalf pointed out.

Spencer wants to make sure there’s money in the budget for curriculum needs and to make sure teachers have “the right tools.”

She suggested the need for more planning to lay out the needs and goals of the district.

“We need a bigger plan than just the current year,” she said. “It’s not that you’re going to stick with the plan necessarily. It’s revisited every year.”

TEACHER-LEADER—Fifth grade teacher Melissa Elliott spoke to the board about a proposal to have a teacher-leader in place at the elementary school to serve in a leadership position when the principal is not in the building. She learned about the concept from a substitute teacher.

All teachers interested in participating would take turns in filling the post for two week blocks of time. A list of duties would be prepared for the person to accomplish.

It would place a familiar face in the building to give security to children and to serve as a liaison to parents and to whoever is hired to serve as the administrator.

Board members have discussed hiring a K-12 principal who wouldn’t be in the elementary building all the time.

In addition, the board read a letter from art teacher Kym Ries whose daughter observed a similar concept in a Minnesota school. 

In that case, a teacher with an interest in administration serves as a dean of students for two years to assist the principal.

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

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