E-TC School Board elects officers

Skip Schulz/For the Gazette From left, Ewen-Trout Creek School Board officers are Carol Maki, John Pinkerton, Amanda Brady and Kirk Schott.

EWEN — The Ewen-Trout Creek School Board re-elected its officers at its Thursday meeting. Dr. Kirk Schott will remain president, with John Pinkerton as vice president, Carol Maki as secretary and Amanda Brady as treasurer.

The E-TC Board went with the Ontonagon Area School District in passing a resolution in support of starting school before Labor Day. For school to start before Labor Day, all six schools in the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District have to agree.

A detailed discussion tool place dealing with the 3 percent Retirement Refund Program. There were some changes in 2010-2012 in the retirement system for school employees that resulted in 3 percent of their pay being put into a fund. There were some questions on the legality of the system, so that money was placed in escrow.

“After years of legal wrangling and a court ruling or two, the State Supreme Court ruled last month that those monies should be given back to the school employees, with interest. The money will be, or has been, given to the schools for reimbursement,” Schott said. “The question now is the proper accounting of this money, regarding taxes, and so one. A lot of these people are no longer working for the schools. So E-TC is waiting on some guidance from other entities on the proper way to refund this money, to avoid any unexpected consequences to the school, of the employees and former employees. This is kind of a statewide issue right now.”

Superintendent/Principal Alan Tulppo discussed past and current student enrollment at E-TC, along with a report from the Michigan School Finance Research Collaborative (MSFRC). “It wasn’t that many years ago that the District had and forecasted an enrollment around 175 students. The past few years we have sustained enrollment between 198 and 208 students. This year we are at 204 students.”

The MSFRC 358-page report released this week states that the base per-pupil cost to educate a regular education, K-12 student in Michigan is $9590/year.

“This does not include transportation, food service or capital costs, and only includes pension costs of 4.6 percent of wages,” Tulppo stated from the report. “It costs $14,155 to educate a preschool student ages 3 or 4. Plus the per-pupil cost includes special education, English Language learners, and students living in poverty and programs to provide Career and Technical Education.”

During the meeting Tulppo talked about ways the district can save money. This included reducing the lighting in the school, along with turning down the heat. Another topic dealing with finances and student education that Tulppo talked about was an Industrial Arts program. The former E-TC shop classroom is now being used for the Robotics program.

In regards to Career Training Education (CTE) or Shop, Schott agreed with what Tulppo stated, “We have a couple of issues here. One is that these classes are not required, so funding can certainly be an issue, especially for small schools,” Schott remarked.

“Maybe a bigger issue is finding certified/licensed instructors. Simply having years of experience in the skilled trades does not make you a certified teacher. There are some other requirements, making it difficult to find a “shop teacher” to place in the ‘shop class,’ according to Tulppo.

“It may be easier, and more lucrative to simply put your skill to use in the private sector,” concluded Schott.