Gwinn OKs tight budget


Journal Staff Writer

GWINN – The Gwinn Area Community Schools Board of Education approved its 2013-2014 budget, following a public hearing on the subject Monday night.

The budget calls for total revenues to its general fund of $10,583,340 and total expenditures of $10,683,088, resulting in a net loss of $99,748. The projected June 30, 2014 fund balance is $26,104.

During a presentation to the board on the 2013-2014 budget, Business Manager Amy Luoma said the district will get $60 in increased per pupil state aid funding, resulting in a total increase of $73,396. She estimated the student count in October would be 1,133, putting the district’s three-year average – which is what the state uses in calculating its state aid payments – at 1,184 students.

Though the state aid payment is increasing, Luoma said the continuing problem of declining enrollment meant the district would still lose $203,147 over last year.

Luoma said the district is also looking at an increase in transportation costs of $47,000 to send all of its elementary students to K.I. Sawyer Elementary School as well as an increase in personnel costs as a result of the needs of the district’s special education program.

Luoma estimated the savings of the board’s April decision to close Gilbert Elementary School at $100,000 and said the district might be able to save an additional $308,000 through current negotiations with its unions.

She also said the district was able to save $650,000 through attrition and personnel reductions in the following positions: two paraprofessionals, four elementary and three high school teachers, one administrator and the athletic custodian.

Several people spoke during public comment, and many of the crowd gathered inside the Gwinn High School library yelled out during the meeting, voicing their displeasure at the closure of Gilbert Elementary.

During discussion on a resolution to borrow funds, Luoma also mentioned an assertion made by Superintendent Kim Tufnell earlier this year that there was a chance the district would not be able to make payroll as soon as October.

She said those assertions were made based on the passing of a deficit budget.

Since the board approved a budget that would not leave the district with a deficit fund balance, that issue was off the table.

Luoma said with an extra $80,000 provided by the state, a savings of $240,000 with the loss of three high school teachers, the current budget coming in better than expected and negotiations with the district’s unions going well, the district’s deficit was closing.

“At that time, when those comments were made, we hadn’t started negotiations yet, we had about a $700,000 hole to fill,” Luoma said.

In other action, the board voted unanimously to offer a one-year interim superintendent contract to Stephen Piereson, who currently works as the superintendent of Ishpeming Public Schools. His contract there expires June 30.

It also voted to make Trustee Ron Libey the new vice president of the board, following the death of Ruth Spade, who previously held that position.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. Her email address is