Resignations, layoffs OKd by school board 2015.06.24

By DAVID GREEN

As Morenci's enrollment remains low and state financial support fails to meet cost increases, board of education members voted June 2 to reduce two teachers to half-time status, to lay off two paraprofessionals, and to eliminate two paraprofessional positions.

Social studies teacher Emilie Beach and elementary school music teacher Keith Filipek were reduced to half-time status. This means the end of the elementary school music program, however, art class will return to the school through Phil Grime who taught science during the last school year.

Grime was trained as an art teacher, said Morenci superintendent of schools Mike McAran, but also has a passion for science. Elementary school students will receive both art and science instruction from Grime in the coming school year.

Filipek was offered the option to teach high school music on a half-time basis and has until June 30 to make a decision.

In a letter to board members, Filipek reminded the board about the musicals performed by students in recent years that involved students at all levels. He directed the plays at no cost, unlike athletic coaches who are paid, he said.

Music is far from serving as an "extra" in children's education, Filipek said, and he believes the district is making a mistake by cutting the program to save money.

Paraprofessionals Robin Price and Julie Rister were laid off. Both serve as one-on-one aides for special needs children. In addition, two positions were eliminated: an elementary school special education paraprofessional position currently filled by Sherrie Barnes and a developmental kindergarten paraprofessional position filled by Renate Benjamin. Barnes and Benjamin will be retained and could apply for other paraprofessional jobs in the district.

RESIGNATIONS—Board members accepted the resignation of science teacher Christa Graham who will be leaving the area, and the retirements of high school secretary Barb Wright and elementary school secretary Cindy Fankhauser.

FIFTH GRADE—With the addition of a second Great Start Readiness Program for preschool students, Morenci's two fifth grade classrooms will be moved back to the middle school where they were located prior to last year.

ASSISTANT—One hour a day will be added to the schedule of assistant principal Phil Stark for the next school year. 

Secondary principal Kim Irish is facing increased demands from Title I funding requirements and she will also spend some time observing in third and fourth grade classrooms next year. A longer day for the assistant principal will allow him to cover more of Irish’s duties.

Elementary school principal Gail Frey will spend more time with reading instruction and reading specialist Angela Pickett will do some work with staff and students in the upper grades.