Morenci Board of Education president Scott Merillat addressed concerns he’s heard recently about the direction the school is taking.
“This last week or so I’ve heard a lot of rumors going around about things that haven’t been discussed at the board level,” he said.
Merillat summarized recent events by noting that a contract with the teachers was signed shortly before the school year, however, the board adopted a budget showing an expected $350,000 shortfall.
That amount will wipe out all reserve funds and put the district into deficit. This brings about the need for a deficit elimination plan and on top of that, he said, the board must balance the budget.
“We’ve put that burden on [district superintendent] Dr. Osborne to begin looking at things,” Merillat said.
Secondary principal Kelli Campbell looked at the situation last year and decided to combine the high school and middle school offices, and the board has discussed moving the board of education offices into the high school.
Discussion also began about making changes at the business office. Among three options, only one seemed feasible at the present time—moving the business office duties to the Lenawee ISD—and a representative from that office spoke to the board last week about how it might be handled.
A substantial savings would be realized from the move, however, there are many duties that wouldn’t be covered by the ISD and further study is needed.
“There hasn’t been any discussion about the consolidation of services with other school districts,” Merillat said, “but over the next year probably everything will be looked at. At some point we’ve got to save $350,000, and 85 percent of our costs for our school district are employees.”
There’s a continual search for ways to operate the district more efficiently. Over the years, he said, the board has had to ask for more and more from all school employees, but it’s now going beyond doing more. The board has directed the superintendent to come up with a balanced budget.
“I want to assure everyone that it’s in the best interest of the board, the superintendent, the administrators, to have a district here,” Merillat said. “That’s our goal.”
Without a local school district, the community would be substantially diminished. The school is the town, he said.
He encouraged community members to contact a board member or administrator with concerns or questions, and to check on the accuracy of rumors.