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School Board Spotlight - Neil Carrigan

Article Date: 
26 November, 2010 - 06:00

Neil Carrigan was born and raised in Morgan. He graduated from Morgan High School and earned a degree from Brigham Young after which he became a math teacher. He taught for seven years at Rich High School, a small rural school in Randolph that had only fifty students. He then moved to Morgan where he taught math and coached a variety of sports for thirty-two years.
Carrigan and his wife Chris are the parents of seven grown children. Chris is also a teacher at Morgan High School where she teaches home economics. Neil fondly talks about his wife as the “shoe lady” because of her love of collecting shoes. She has 481 pair.
Carrigan served for 12 years on the Morgan City council. He gained an appreciation for government and government service during this tenure. When he retired as a teacher he decided to continue his work helping the children of Morgan in a different way and ran for the school board. He has been serving on the school board for two years.
Carrigan’s responsibilities are for Morgan Empowered and the Morgan Education Foundation. Carrigan was instrumental in the formation of Morgan Empowered in an interesting way. He had maintained contacts at another high school where they had implemented a student drug testing program that had been very effective. The program was not used to prosecute students, but was used as a method to counsel and help students who had become involved in drugs. Carrigan proposed a similar program for Morgan High School.
Many members of the community were concerned about privacy issues relating to drug testing and members of the board were concerned about the costs of this kind of program. Carrigan asked those who were opposed to the testing to offer some alternative solutions. They did, and Morgan Empowered was the solution they proposed. The program is patterned on successful programs from other communities and Carrigan says that it has brought many good things to Morgan. The program has involved parents, law enforcement, churches, and concerned citizens. The awareness created by this program has had many beneficial effects in Carrigan’s view.
Carrigan’s role in the Morgan Education Foundation is primarily fund-raising. The Morgan Education Foundation is a non profit entity set up by the school district so that individual’s donations to the school district can be tax deductible. Some of the donations to the education foundation are designated to specific areas like sports or specific academic programs, but many are able to be used for any need that is identified. Teachers can request funding for programs or for education needs and if it is approved then the grant is awarded from foundation funds.
The fund is invested, and the grants are paid from the interest received from the investment. The goal of the foundation is to build up a $1,000,000 endowment. This will then generate interest that can fund many worthwhile programs at the schools. The fund balance is currently at $250,000 so the foundation is one quarter of the way to its goal. The foundation recently conducted an auction that Carrigan estimates resulted in proceeds of approximately $18,000 to the fund.
Carrigan sees the most serious issue faced by the school district as funding. Growth in the student population is currently outpacing funding increases. The district had built up a surplus in previous years, but if the trend of more students with insufficient funding continues he is concerned that spending cuts or tax increases will be necessary.
Carrigan commented on the new physical education facility being constructed by the school district. The board decided to proceed with this project because of the very favorable financial terms that are available in this climate from stimulus spending. The cost of this facility with the stimulus money involved will be substantially lower than at any other time. Carrigan would like to see this facility be open to the general public in Morgan once it is completed, if at all possible.
Carrigan also sees a growing need for work to be done on the high school. He focused on the old portion of the high school that was built in the 60s and suggested that with the cost of land today that the best route may be to replace this wing with a new two-story structure.
With the addition of Mountain Green Elementary Carrigan believes that the elementary and middle schools are sufficient for the near future. The school district is looking for land to purchase both because they are trying to plan for the future in a good market in which to purchase land, and also because portions of the district budget are earmarked for particular purposes and the board does not have discretion on how they are spent. Some of the funding from the state is designated for particular purposes from the state government.
Carrigan is pleased with the performance of the new superintendent and the administrative and teaching staff at the schools. He says that the new superintendent, Ken Adams has brought many skills in communicating and public relations to the position and that this has resulted in better communication with the community.
Carrigan stated that the board is working to ensure that test scores continue to rise, that the facilities of the district are sufficient for the student and faculty’s needs, and that there is appropriate technology available to students and teachers to facilitate a good learning environment.
Carrigan hopes that more members of the community will get involved and make their voices heard at school board meetings and through their representatives on the board. He expressed the belief that the more members of the community that are involved the better the decisions of the board.
Carrigan is confident of the future of the Morgan School district. He sees challenges ahead, but believes that the district has the right people to rise to these challenges and find good solutions. His goal is to keep the students foremost in his mind as decisions are made and with this focus to help the district continue in the great tradition of education that has become a hallmark of the Morgan community.