DOLLAR BAY - The financial situation at the Dollar Bay - Tamarack City Area Schools has improved as a result of some recent changes approved by the members of the board of education.
William Rivest, Dollar Bay schools K-12 principal, said at their regular meeting Monday, the members of the board of education approved a budget revision, which improved the district's fund equity.
"Our fund equity has gone up to 15 percent," he said. "We've been able to increase our surplus."
Rivest said the 15 percent fund equity is close to the 18 percent recommended by the Michigan Department of Education.
The fund equity is the amount of assets in excess of what the district has over its liabilities. It is not surplus cash available.
One of the reasons for the better financial situation, Rivest said, is an increase in enrollment. Recently, the enrollment has been around 270 pupils. Now it's at 320, with 162 in the K-6 elementary school, and 158 in the grades 7-12 high school.
Enrollment hasn't been that high since the late 70s or early 80s, Rivest said.
"If we're not at record enrollment, we're very near record enrollment," he said.
Rivest said the reason for the increase in enrollment has to do with who is coming to the schools.
"We're getting more schools of choice students," he said.
In order to get the $6,966 per pupil foundation grant from the state, Rivest said students have to be enrolled for the fall count, which accounts for 90 percent of the grant. The spring count provides the remaining 10 percent.
At the Jan. 27 meeting, Rivest said the members of the board of education also approved refinancing a bond of more than $2 million, which voters approved in 1997 to fund the construction of the elementary school addition and upgrades to the high school building. In 2005, the 30-year-bond was refinanced and the interest was reduced from 4.5 percent to 4 percent. The recent refinancing reduced the 4 percent to 2 percent. At the end of the bond's life in 2027, the interest will be 3 percent.
Rivest said the refinancing of the bond will save district taxpayers $134,000 per year.
The district received a $4,200 grant from the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, which Rivest said will be used in conjunction with a $5,000 grant from Lowe's Home Improvement to construct an outdoor science lab for students to get hands-on experience with various projects.
On a another topic, Rivest said two Dollar Bay High School students received Michigan Technological University Leading Scholar Awards, which recognizes students who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and scholarly achievements.
Senior Xena Cortez will receive a full scholarship to attend Tech. Cortez is one of three students in Michigan to receive the scholarship.
Senior Anna Backman will receive $8,000 per year for four years to attend Tech. She is one of 27 in the state to receive the award.