Grades 7-8 to relocate from Cleghorn to Marcus
MARCUS - Some Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn parents attended the school board meeting on April 19th, as they had some concerns about moving the seventh and eighth grades to the high school building in Marcus. Most needed reassurance that the board had thought the move through.
Greta Petersen commented that she had hoped the fourth grade would be situated with grades one through three, yet she understood financially how moving the seventh and eighth grades made sense. She hoped the two grades' contact with high school students would be kept at a minimal.
Former board member Karen Ferris thought the board might have trouble keeping the public's trust as the new building project was approved to bring the fourth grade to Marcus, not the seventh and eighth. Carla Weber thought upper classmen would harass the junior high students and especially in the locker rooms. She stressed the need for constant supervision in those rooms.
Geri Lynn Specht recognized the need for keeping the budget in the black in order to keep the MMC District viable, as the number of students decline so does the revenue which isn't unique only to MMC. The school needs to be run as any business to remain in business. She expressed confidence in the board and staff to handle the situation. Specht reminded folks that she was in school when the merger of the districts came about and how successful all the problems had been worked out as this one will also.
Brian Mugge, a former instructor at the Cleghorn building, hoped the Industrial Technology Exploratory lab would be put to use as many had donated money to create a successful program. Al Hoefling thought parents had concerns because all of their questions hadn't received answers and he thought the board should take some more time before passing the recommendation to move the seventh and eighth grades.
Superintendent Jan Brandhorst said he wished they didn't need to make the change, although the board would have to make the move by next year as there is no other way to save a huge amount of money, Once again he reminded the crowd that with a couple of resignations, it guided the board in that direction.
"We would hate to move the fourth grade back for one year and then move them again the following year back to Cleghorn," said Brandhorst. "It makes sense to do it this year. As far as sharing with a neighboring district, it just isn't in the plans right now and we have to respect that. We have talked to Remsen and they just aren't interested. I think most of us are motivated to keep MMC a solvent school district and this move will be very feasible. The board and myself understand your concerns. The counselors and administration will be on top of this. Teachers will be in the hallway with every ring of the bell when students pass in the hall and perhaps we can stagger some movements. In the last four years that I have been in Marcus, we have lost 100 students. It's a trend and until it starts to level off, we will have to deal with it."
Parents were reassured the move is not taken lightly but to keep the district in good financial shape, it is required to do so. The administration has been working on class schedules and making assignments with the staff. Staff has also stepped up and offered what they could do to fill in the schedules of classes. Study hall will be handled with an aide.
All of the board members responded to the parents. Jeff Gross informed the group that the board has had 11 meetings since January and four thus far in April.
"We have not done this without looking into what would work. If we have to go to a neighboring district, we will lose control of what happens to our students. Many districts have made this change and MMC won't be the last one. We have asked every question you have and we feel this will work and more importantly, it saves us $176,000."
Karla Prunty, another board member, reminded the group that three of the board members have children in these classes. "Is this an ideal situation? Maybe not, but we need to make changes and this is a viable one. It is up to the parents to cooperate with the district and when situations come up, let us know and we'll deal with it. I'd much rather have my child attend MMC than go to a neighboring district."
The board passed the motion to move the seventh and eighth grades to Marcus.