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Gwinn OKs new phone system

District will use sinking fund dollars

GWINN — The Gwinn Area Community Schools Board of Education on Monday approved a new phone system with 911 compliance for the district, marking the first project that uses sinking millage funds.

The board approved the new district system for an amount not to exceed the state of Michigan bid threshold of $25,288.

Voters in March passed a sinking fund millage request for GACS. The district asked for 1.5 mills, or $1.50 on each $1,000 of taxable valuation, for four years from 2020 to 2023.

The millage creates a sinking fund for things such as construction or repair of school buildings, school security improvements, the acquisition or upgrading of technology, and the purchase of real estate for sites for school buildings.

GACS Superintendent Sandy Petrovich said she and other school officials had been meeting weekly to discuss the district’s most immediate needs based on the first-year list.

“The phone system, especially the phone system at the secondary building, has really topped up as number one,” Petrovich said.

The secondary building houses Gwinn high and middle schools.

GACS Information Technology Director Ian McLeod said the phone system at the secondary building had started to deteriorate.

“The style we have now is outdated,” said McLeod, who noted the system is of the analog variety.

He suggested GACS use an internet-style, digital phone system similar to Zoom.

The timeline would involve installing it in the secondary building as soon as possible, ideally during spring break, with Gilbert and K.I. Sawyer elementary schools being the focus during summer break, he said.

“It’s going to involve us going into their classrooms,” McLeod said. “They’re going to lose whatever voicemails they have and all that sort of stuff, so I’d like to be able to train them and work with them as much in advance as we can.

“The high school, we don’t have that luxury, so we’ll just have to kind of move forward with it.”

McLeod acknowledged that with the new system, if the internet goes out, the phone system will go out, too. However, the secondary building’s current line is on the same line as the internet.

“If Charter has a problem and goes down, there’s a decent chance the current system will go down as well,” McLeod said.

Petrovich pointed out that during the semester she was high school principal, when the power went out, so did the current phone system.

McLeod also addressed the new system’s longevity, noting he doesn’t anticipate unexpected costs down the road.

“Let’s just say the phones that we get now die, or someone smashes them, whatever, you can get other brands of phones that you can put in there,” he said. “It’s very standard.”

Petrovich retiring

Petrovich plans to retire as superintendent effective July 1.

She took over the superintendent role from Tom Jayne late in 2017.

At one point, the district faced a budget deficit of over $400,000. Now, the district is healthy financially.

Board President Dawn Andrews said Petrovich’s resignation was a “hard one for me to swallow” and expressed gratitude for “rescuing” the district.

The board accepted the resignation on Monday.

Board secretary Ashley Jenema had a few kind words about Petrovich.

“Sandy, you came on when our district was in dire, dire need of a really solid leader with a long view,” Jenema said. “You took on a giant, and you helped lead us through and turn a dire situation around, and I’ve felt very honored and blessed to have you as our ‘fearless’ district superintendent for this short time, and you are going to be terribly missed.

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done.”

Officers elected

Andrews was re-elected president of the school board. John Waldo was re-elected vice president, with Avis Meyers-Ketola elected treasurer and Jenema elected secretary.

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