By DAVID GREEN
Morenci Board of Education members are expected to vote next month on a proposal to allow an equestrian team to function as a school club.
Morenci teacher Michelle Reincke spoke to a school board committee last week about establishing the club as a team sport for the fall season. Three regular meets are planned in September at the county fairgrounds and additional regional and state tournament meets are available to those students who qualify.
The cost is $70 per student, Reincke said, which could be covered by fund-raising activities or by the participants themselves. Students must have their own horse or the use of a horse and must find their own transportation to the fairgrounds.
Students can practice skills on their own to some extent, she said, but team practices are also essential in order for the horses to interact with one another.
Three students are interested in starting the team and Reinke also knows of three middle school students who are interested. The middle school program has only one meet in the spring whih costs $30.
The program would operate at no cost to the district and would benefit from volunteer coaches, including school finance director Erica Metcalf.
Metcalf explained that equestrian events are judged entirely on the skills of the rider and not of the horse. Participants can choose up to eight events for competitions.
Reincke said the students she's spoken with have expressed an interest in working with animals for a career and she believes an equestrian club would serve to support their interests.
FINANCES—Metcalf said last week she was still waiting for information from local taxing units before giving the board a final financial report before actions are taken to trim the budget. Superintendent Michael Osborne intends to present a suggested list of cuts to the board this spring.
A list of maintenance, repair and upgrade needs should be completed soon, also, when the costs of various projects are assembled. The board expects to spend the funds remaining from the middle school construction project to make upgrades to the school's technology system.
Other projects addressed will depend on the outcome of the May 7 bond vote. District residents will be asked to extend the existing school bond. Passage of the levy would make $2.9 million available for projects without costing taxpayers any more than they currently pay.
BEST PRACTICES—School districts must meet at least seven of eight "best practices" as required by the state in order to obtain full funding.
Metcalf is confident the district met the requirement which will lead to an additional $52 per student—substantially less than what was given a year ago, she said.
It's not exactly a gain in funding, added board president Scott Merillat. The state government took money away several years ago and now districts are eligible to get a portion of the funds back again by meeting requirements.
The state is requiring practices such as changing the medical benefits plan to make employees pay a greater portion; offering the Schools of Choice option that allows out-of-district students to attend school with no tuition charged; seeking competitive bids for non-instructional services; monitoring academic progress twice a year; offering an on-line instructional program; providing school data on-line; offering opportunities for students to earn post-secondary credits while in high school; and offering a physical education and health education curriculum in accord with state guidelines.
Most of the requirements were already in effect in the district.