NICE district in solid financial shape

ISHPEMING – NICE Community Schools continues to move forward in robust and healthy financial shape, Superintendent Bryan DeAugustine said after the NICE school board met last week to make final amendments to the 2013-2014 budget and set preliminary figures for the upcoming school year.

The district will finish its fiscal year at the end of this month with a general fund balance of more than $816,000, which DeAugustine said it should be able to maintain next school year even as it continues to make payments on debt obligations like the one that financed improvements to Aspen Ridge School about 15 years ago.

Aspen Ridge is having two new classrooms added to it, with 2,350 square feet of learning space. In addition, the project includes expanding existing restrooms and renovating the building’s main office. The project is being paid for with monies from the district’s sinking fund, which DeAugustine said is also in great shape.

The construction crew, Munising’s Cross General Contracting, is making good headway, DeAugustine said.

“The construction crew came in force and really got to work,” he said. “The walls are up, the roof is on and we’re actually starting on the interior.”

Also at last week’s meeting, the board awarded DeAugustine a 1 percent stipend for his achievement of performance goals related to students’ ACT and Michigan Educational Assessment Program scores.

“Basically, the proficiency rate grew enough for me to reach those performance stipends,” DeAugustine said. “We had to see at least a 2 percent growth and our students and teachers did a great job, so we went well above that threshold.”

The school board will meet again at 6 tonight in the Westwood High School Media Center. Items on the agenda include consider renewing an agreement with the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency, participation in the Schools of Choice program and a closed session to complete the annual evaluation of DeAugustine’s performance.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401.