Negaunee school board approves contract, faces budget deficit

NEGAUNEE – At its meeting Monday night, the Negaunee Public Schools Board of Education ratified the new interim superintendent’s contract and approved a tentative budget for the upcoming school year that will require a more than $400,000 transfer to the general fund to stay out of deficit.

The board approved a $97,000 one-year base agreement with Dan Skewis. Skewis was formerly the principal at Negaunee Middle School. Taking his place will be Mike McCollum, previously a teacher in the Munising Public Schools District, who has a master’s in school administration.

The forecast adopted by the district for the 2014-2015 school year includes about $13.3 million in revenues, but is exceeded by expenditures by about $408,000, according to board president Greg Toutant.

“The general fund budget itself, we’re going to be in a deficit mode that we’re going to have to borrow out of the reserves to balance the budget itself,” he said.

Superintendent Jim Derocher said the district is required by law to present a balanced budget, necessitating the transfer in from its “fund balance” – essentially the district savings account.

After the transfer, Toutant said the fund balance will have about $1.5 million.

The district also approved its tax rates for next year, keeping them roughly the same as the 2013-14 rates.

“Really, it’s kind of (at) a point where they’re held in check,” Toutant said.

Additionally, the board approved the district’s final budget amendments for the 2013-14 school year, ending with a roughly $127,000 deficit in the general fund – a number which Derocher said he expects will be somewhat less once the district’s yearly audit is conducted.

“We are not allowed to spend more than the board authorizes,” Derocher explained, so the district gives itself a little extra cushion in case the audit finds that it outspent its budget in certain areas.

In addition to having a new principal, the middle school will also have a new assistant principal, Kyle Saari, appointed after former assistant principal Paul Jacobson decided to return to teaching for personal reasons, Derocher said. Jacobson will continue to be the head football coach.

Dan Waterman, the new Negaunee High School boys basketball coach, will teach math at the middle school.

At Lakeview Elementary School, Heather Sandstrom will take the assistant principal slot that opened after Warren Potts left at the end of the school year to return to North Carolina.

Following the meeting, the board held a reception to celebrate Derocher’s 16 years as Negaunee’s superintendent and to wish him well in his retirement.

Zach Jay can be reached at 906-486-4401. His email address is