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Ontonagon Schools improve financial health

ONTONAGON — After years of concern by the residents, parents, and students of the Ontonagon Area School District (OASD) when it comes to the district’s financial health, at this past week’s OASD board meeting, the audit report had good news on the district’s financial health.

OASD business manager Linda Karttunen reported that the audit showed that the district is above the 5% that the state wants the districts to be at. 

“This is the first time that the district has been at the 5% as long as Linda (Karttunen) can remember. Our general fund balance came out at $163,605 as of June 30, 2019,” Jim Bobula, OASD superintendent/principal, said. “We’re in good shape compared to where we have been in.”

The board approved the audit report Anderson, Tackman & Company. The board also adopted a resolution to continue the practice of summer collection of local school taxes in Ontonagon, Rockland, and Carp Lake Township. Taxes are for the operation and debt service that will be collected in the summer of 2020 under the same pro-rate as in 2019.

One of the cost-cutting moves the district made years ago was to go to a wood burning system. For years, Pestka Construction provided the wood chips for the boiler. However Pestka decided not to provide the wood chips this year, but did assist the district in securing Northern Hardwoods to provide the wood chips.

“There was no one else in the area that we knew could do this,” said Bobula.

In his report, Bobula gave an update on the new gas burner for the wood boiler’s multi-use conversion that will be installed in December, along with the gas boiler being re-tubed.

Recently, OASD freshman toured three businesses in the Ironwood area to show how the western U.P. has industry where graduates may have the opportunity to garner employment.  This included tours of Jaquarts, Ironwood Plastics and Extreme Tool.

“The kids were very excited on the tours. They had their eyes open to a lot of new technology on Industry that we have locally that can provide good paying jobs for young people to stay and work locally,” Bobula said. “All three businesses were very accommodating. I thanked them very much for that.”

Representatives from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Northern Michigan University, and Keweenaw Bay Ojibwa Community College came to the school at different points this fall as well.

The board approved the contract with Don Sidlikowsi from Northwood’s Economic Development Coalition for consulting and design fees for the district’s Fab Lab and Makerspace creation.

Bobula exemplified his pride in reporting as to how more than just one boy and one girl can go to the American Legion “State” program.  According to Bobula, Luke Soumis and Lydia Strasser gave such an excellent presentation on their experience to state, that the Rockland American Legion, along with private donations came up with the money to send three girls and one boy to state this year.

“Usually we can only send one boy and one girl, however we had three girls that applied. It would have been very difficult to choose only one girl to go. They are going to provide additional funding for all three girls, which is great,” Bobula proudly said.

Showing their pride in veterans, OASD had a Veterans Day breakfast. 

“Once again, this was a great success,” said Bobula.

On other board business, Dawson Pollard was hired as Boys junior varsity basketball coach. Boys junior high basketball has started with the first home game scheduled for Dec. 4. After the success of the high school robotics team, OASD now has students competing in an elementary robotics competition.  That will be in Marquette on Nov. 16.

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