The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood district faces deficit from missing township taxes



Ironwood — The Ironwood Area Schools is facing the threat of a potential deficit, although not necessarily one of its own making.

Superintendent Tim Kolesar told the district’s board of education Monday the district has yet to receive any of the expected $389,805 in tax funds from Ironwood Township.

“There’s a lot of uncertainties when it comes to our finances right now, based on this,” Kolesar said. “We’re dealing right now with calling our state representatives … we’re contacting the Department of Treasury, we’re working with many other state officials to try and see what resolution we can come up with.”

He told the board the county treasurer’s records show the money had been collected as the township’s Summer 2016 taxes but not disbursed to the district.

After the meeting, Kolesar told the Daily Globe the money represents close to 5 percent of the district’s annual budget.

He said the funds are usually sent to the district throughout the year, usually beginning in October through December and arriving through the end of the school year.

Kolesar said the district had some issue collecting the funds last year, and had to ask where the money was, but this is the first year the district hasn’t received the expected tax funds.

He told the board he hopes to present a plan by the end of the district’s fiscal year June 30, but that the district wouldn’t have the money by then.

The shortfall would put the district in a deficit situation, as Board President Steve Thomas said the district’s fund balance was roughly $240,000.

The district could ultimately pursue a number of solutions — including seeking a loan from the state, listing the money as a receivable to allow for late collection or developing a deficit elimination plan as required by the state — but the district’s hands are largely tied in the short term.

“It’s out of our hands. There’s (absolutely nothing) at this time we can do about it,” board president pro-tem Ed Rickard said.

Former township treasurer Jyl Olson-DeRosso is facing 10 felonies, accused of embezzling $196,862 in public money — including $114,470 from the township’s tax fund — over a five year period from 2011 to 2016.

In other action:

—The board approved a resolution continuing the district’s membership in the Michigan High School Athletic Association for the district’s middle and high school sports.

—The board approved spending up to $13,000 for another year of Renaissance Learning materials for the district’s math and reading curriculum.

—The board approved the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District’s general fund operating budget for the 2017-18 year. Each district in the ISD must approve the budget.

—The board accepted the resignations of English teacher Megan Maki, special education teacher and volleyball coach Heather Sbraggia and cheerleading coach Sundy Meyer; as well as the retirement of assistant accountant Cheryl Warrick. The board also approved hiring William Sivula as a substitute bus driver and Ashley Stella to replace Sbraggia as special education teacher.

—Kolesar also updated the board on changes made to the district’s Alternative School program, saying he has been meeting with the school’s staff to develop a roadmap forward, new policies and curriculum and ways to attract students.


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