Morenci school board 2015.08.26

Morenci Board of Education members voted Aug. 3 to hire two fall season coaches and a new band director.

Megan Thompson will coach junior varsity volleyball and Renae Schaffner will lead the middle school volleyball team. Erin Lillieford was hired as the new band director.

BIDS—Arps Dairy was chosen to provide dairy products for the 2015-16 school year and Aunt Millie's was selected for bread products. Gasoline will be purchased from Lightning Quick in Morenci.

LUNCH PRICES—The board approved a 10 cent increase in lunch prices, making the elementary school price $2.10 and the middle school and high school price $2.40. An increase is made every year because the district's lunch prices are below the federal reimbursement rate.

MUSIC—Retired Morenci music teacher KC Carter returned to Morenci to ask the board about the status of the elementary music program.

Carter said at the July 14 meeting that she saw many students over the years who weren't having great success academically, but really shined in the music program, and that continued through high school. The elementary program feeds the high school band and choir, giving younger students basic skills to use later.

"I understand it's not easy to make it all work with state funding, but I'm asking you to find a way," she said. "Look at the budget one more time."

McAran said Monday that the district will need to know enrollment figures before deciding what cuts might have to be made. What the state is doing financially is criminal, he said.

Board member Ivy Hutchison said that the new band director is willing to lead an after-school choral class if interest is shown. Elementary teachers will also have some music in their lesson plans. It won't replace the music program, she said, but it's something.

FINANCES—McAran told the board that he expects renewal support for early childhood education programs by the state due to strong support by the governor.

Although third-grade literacy proposals have fallen twice at the state capitol, a new proposal would require reading proficiency before a student can be advanced to fourth grade. After third grade, McAran said, poor readers tend to fall into a downward cycle and have great difficulty catching up.

McAran spoke about a study by the Detroit Free Press that found that state education officials didn't pursue academic deficiencies in charter schools despite poorer performances than traditional schools.

Finally, McAran said that public school districts appear to be free of financial harm from state road repair efforts, but board president Scott Merillat, who is director of the county road commission, said that might not be the case. 

Legislators are feeling pressure to address road problems without raising taxes and it's noted that the school fund encompasses a huge part of state funding. No one has spoken publicly about taking education money, Merillat said, but a fear exists that it could happen.

An MSU study found that the public's concern about bad roads exceeds concern about education funding.

POLICY—Board members approved several policy updates to meet state and federal rules and also passed a few local revisions. A unisex restroom was approved that will be located in the hallway between the high school and the middle school. 

A school facility use policy was approved that requires a payment if school facilities are used in which people are charged a fee to participate. With the new key fobs being used and the new security system in place, it's a good time to make a change, said board member Ivy Hutchison. Not everyone is going to like the change, she said, but it's essential. 

The key fobs indicate who the key is checked out to and when the holder was inside the school.

A revision to the athletic handbook allows a student to practice with a team for 10 days before declaring a primary sport if they are participating in two sports in one season.

NEXT MEETING—The board's next meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9.