We were glad to hear school board president Scott Merillat speak to the unusually large crowd at the Morenci Board Education meeting Monday. He touched on the fact that rumors are circulating about what the board and administrators are doing to the district.
It’s obvious what they’re doing—they’re trying to find ways to keep the district operating and move it out of a deficit situation. Michigan schools are not allowed to continual operating in the red. A deficit-reduction plan must be filed and the deficit must be removed if Morenci Area Schools are going to continue to exist. On top of that, a balanced budget must be in place to avoid further debt.
Board members have directed Superintendent of Schools Michael Osborne to find a way out of the financial mess created by increasing costs and falling revenue. This leads to perhaps the most troubling of all the rumors.
We’ve heard it said that Dr. Osborne’s goal is to pave the way for Morenci to close and merge with Hudson, where he also serves as superintendent.
Consolidation is certainly a prospect for Morenci if costs can’t be trimmed, but to see that as Dr. Osborne’s goal is ridiculous. When he says his goal is for Morenci schools to remain intact, we believe him.
School administrators often become very unpopular figures even in the best of times. In a challenging situation such as the one facing Morenci, the likelihood is much higher for a school leader to attract anger. We wish it weren’t that way, but that’s all right. It’s not part of Dr. Osborne’s job to be popular, and he said himself last month that he expects to fall further into disfavor when he does what needs to be done to save the district.
These are very difficult times for the school district. With the way many residents are turning against the top administrator, we seem to be going from bad to worse.