IRONWOOD - The Ironwood Area Schools Board of Education adopted a projected budget for the 2014-2015 school year during a meeting Monday evening.
The estimated fund balance for the year is $512,158. According to superintendent Tim Kolesar the fund balance will go through some changes over the course of the next year.
"There will be changes once we find out more information from the state," Kolesar said.
One of the major changes in the budget was a swing of approximately $50,000 after the district no longer had to pay rent at St. Sebastian School in Bessemer, Kolesar said. The district is saving around $30,000 after not having to pay rent to house the Gogebic County Community Schools.
Kolesar said "additional revenue" is also a factor in the swing.
The board also approved the 2014 tax rate request to be sent over to the Gogebic County Board of Commissioners for approval. The millage rate request was for 22.7964 mills, up from a little more than 21 mills last year.
According to Kolesar, the increase is to create a "little reserve" to pay back the 2010 bond, "in case the treasury shorts us again." The 22 mills is under the maximum millage allowed, which is 23.1064 mills.
Because of the uncertainty in state funding, the board was forced to pass a borrowing resolution to help with operating costs. The district is borrowing $2 million, as it does each year, to keep the district running until the first state-aid payment arrives.
"This is to borrow money for operating costs for June, July, August and September, until the first state-aid payment arrives in October," Kolesar said. " ... We need to do this every year."
The board also approved a budget amendment to the 2013-2014 budget, resulting in a fund balance of $460,678. Kolesar said this is the last budget amendment for that year, and the budget is down from what he expected.
He said higher costs in heat because of the "brutal winter" and more students signing up for dual enrollment at Gogebic Community College affected the fund balance.
The board approved a bid from Ruotsala Construction LLC, for a bus drop-off in front of Luther L. Wright School. Two bids were received, and Ruotsala's bid was accepted for a cost of $36,527.
The drop-off will be located near the Ayer Street entrance of LLW, and will feature a concrete, "V" shaped entrance, for buses to drop off and pick kids up.
Creating the drop-off comes after the board decided to move kindergarten through second grade students from Sleight Elementary into LLW, making the building a K-12 facility.
Questions were raised about parents picking up and dropping off students. Kolesar said there will be no parking in front of LLW along Ayer Street, and parents will have to pick up and drop off their children at the back entrance along Pabst Street.
A starting date for construction was not mentioned.
The board approved an increase in hot lunch prices for the 4-year-old through fifth grade students to $2.55 a day. The cost is increased by 15 cents, while the sixth through 12th grade student prices will remain at $2.75 a day. The increase is because the state requires the districts to have an average meal cost of $2.65. With the increase, Ironwood's average meal cost for the district is $2.66.
Seven teachers were hired for summer school, dependent on the number of students enrolled, and the board also approved the three-year technology plan, helping students become "tech ready" for standardized testing done on computers, according to Kolesar.
A request was sent to the Lac Vieux Desert Tribe for 2 percent funding for the community schools in Watersmeet. Ironwood is requesting $7,624 to fund the GED program.
The board also approved a recommendation to join a cooperative skiing program for high school students with Wakefield-Marenisco. Ironwood is currently in a co-op program with Bessemer, and Kolesar said he hopes more students will participate now that W-M has also joined. Ironwood will be the primary school for the program.