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Millage fails in Gwinn

Voters turn back sinking fund request

The Gwinn High School sign is pictured. Voters in Tuesday’s special election for a sinking fund millage for Gwinn Area Community Schools turned down the request, 686 to 507. (Journal file photo)

GWINN — Voters in Tuesday’s special election for a sinking fund millage for Gwinn Area Community Schools turned down the request, 686 to 507.

The school district was seeking a building-and-site sinking fund at 1.75 mills for 10 years, which is $1.75 on each $1,000 of taxable property value.

The fund would have been used for repairs, upgrades and replacement of facilities and technology. Many of the identified repairs directly impact student instruction and safety such as replacement of school flooring, an intercom system, a telephone system, classroom plumbing, ventilation and other items.

GACS Superintendent Sandy Petrovich said the response to the vote is “180” — the approximate difference between the yes and no votes.

“We cannot allow the loss by only 180 yes votes to keep up us from what is needed for the future of the Gwinn Area Community Schools,” Petrovich said. “We will persevere.”

Petrovich said the district can attempt a millage vote in August or November, an issue the school board must address.

“The board will have to have a meeting soon to determine what the next steps will be,” she said.

The yes-no vote breakdown per precinct is: Forsyth Township, precinct 1, 262-321; Forsyth Township, precinct 2, 49-119; Forsyth Township, precinct 3, 41-39; Sands Township, precinct 1, 60-77; Skandia Township, 46-46; and West Branch Township, precinct 1, 49-84.

According to the school’s website, without a sinking fund, the general fund would have to support facility costs, resulting in less money to support teachers, programs, textbooks, buses and other instructional needs.

The school district has been recovering from a $406,000 deficit since June 2017, holding down costs with cautious spending. However, once it’s out of deficit, it must restore its fund balance to at least 5% of its annual operating budget, which is about $550,000.

The district anticipates ending with a $87,000 deficit in June.

A sinking fund was considered critical because increased operating costs and declining revenue leave limited funds for infrastructure.

To view the district’s draft project list for the next 10 years, visit gwinnschools.org.