Funding in Breitung schools strong

KINGSFORD — A recent audit shows Breitung Township Schools has more money in hand than anticipated for the end of the 2016-17 year, Finance Director Jennifer Huotari said Monday.

The audit by Anderson, Tackman & Company of Iron Mountain showed a general fund balance of $1,452,084, with the past year adding in $234,887.

The food service and public improvement funds also showed healthy balances of $133,067 and $280,394, respectively.

The board in June expected a $140,000 increase to the projected general fund balance, raising it to $1,217,197. And Huotari then had told the board that with some bills still to come, that amount could decrease under audit.

Huotari attributed the increase to the administration team working hard to stay within or below budget during the year.

The $1,452,084 balance is just under 9 percent of the district’s general fund budget for the year. This keeps Breitung Township Schools on track to achieve its goal of a 10 percent fund balance by 2020.

In 2014, the district had a 5.6 percent fund balance, which was better than many other districts. But auditors recommend 10 percent to cover any shortfalls that might occur.

The audit had no other findings or recommendations, Huotari said, adding, “I was very pleased with the results.”

The board will get the final audit in October.

The board Monday also decided to contribute $2,500 for the next three years to the Dickinson County Economic Development Alliance, a newly formed organization in the region that Superintendent Craig Allen called “a catalyst for positive change.”

The alliance is looking to hire a new director to promote development in the county, Allen said.

“We need to step up as a district and as a school, be a hub of the area. Education is a critical piece in economic development,” Allen said.

Allen also presented the board with the consortium agreement from the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Community Schools Advisory Board, noting there were no changes from last year.

Allen said they did discuss the fiscal agency for Community Schools and rotating who is the fiscal agent from year to year. He added there is no fiscal advantage to being the agent, which has been Iron Mountain.

“It’s well understood that this is a collaboration and there is a dialogue going on concerning the fiscal agency. We let them know that our board (Breitung Township) just wants to be more involved,” Allen said.

In other business, the board:

— Agreed to Kingsford Middle School assignments: Scott Kleiman as the morning tutor; Sarah Short, Jennifer Spreen and Sharon Lawton for detention; Todd Roell as the extra assignment social studies teacher; Sharon Lawton as the student council adviser; Heather LaVarnway as yearbook adviser and Justin Cowen as the newspaper adviser.

— Approved Kingsford High School assignments: Courtney LeMire as the SADD adviser; Bill Bertoldi as the Rockets for Schools adviser; Nancy deKoster as the drama club adviser and Terrie Rugg as the Saturday school staff.

— Hired Chastine Blonheim as educational assistant after she passed testing for being highly qualified.

— Heard about difficulties finding substitute teachers and support staff substitutes. Allen said they are revisiting the pay schedule for substitutes and will come back to the board with a recommendation from the personnel committee. The current pay is minimum wage for support staff subs and $80 a day for substitute teachers. “There’s not a lot of people out there who want to do it; a shortage. But we’ve also heard that it’s about pay, too,” Allen said.