Baraga addresses enrollment drop

BARAGA – Administrators at Baraga Area Schools will have to continue exploring creative budget solutions, as student enrollment in the district is lower than expected. Fortunately for them, some creative solutions were presented at Monday’s school board meeting.

“Enrollment is an estimate when we do the budget, count day isn’t until October and it’s a moving target, but we do have fewer students than we budgeted for,” BAS Superintendent/K-2 Principal Jennifer Lynn said in a Tuesday phone interview. “There’s still students moving around, but we are down by 11 students from initial prediction, which is roughly around $70,000 (in per-pupil funding). We will be working on making those adjustments.”

Most other news from Monday’s meeting was positive for the district. For example, at least one of the programs initially cut in the budget, high school bowl, will be reinstated as a self-supporting program, with band director Emily Mayer as advisor. International Club will also continue, now as an official school-sponsored activity (it was recently an independent program) under Michele Serafin’s guidance. It will also be self-funded, with a major fundraising initiative underway for students to travel to Costa Rica in the summer of 2014.

Budget and student enrollment matters were discussed Monday as it relates to athletics as well. Specifically, a project to replace the gymnasium bleachers was brought up, and an ad hoc committee will likely be assembled in October to consider a financially feasible way to get it done.

“It’s more long-term planning, and we’re looking at how to raise revenue,” Lynn said. “It’s not something the general fund would be able to support.”

As far as enrollment figures, in addition to affecting the budget, the district has also noticed lower than hoped for student attendance at athletic events, something a new initiative could remedy.

“We talked about how we can encourage student attendance, and the board passed a motion to approve that Baraga students may attend fall sports for free if they’re wearing school colors,” Lynn said.

In other business Monday, the board:

passed an annual resolution to continue adult education offerings through the Baraga/L’Anse combined Community Schools. Interested people may still enroll, and the board approved Community Schools adult education and alternative high school education course offerings as well.

approved posting the district’s annual education report to, which also recently got a new design. All handbooks, and newly created quick guides containing about 90 percent of the information parents typically call in about are also on the website.

adopted a district schedule for September and October, but the full schedule cannot be established until a new contract is in place with teachers. Tentatively, all standard holidays/vacations will align with the Copper Country Intermediate School District common calendar. The board met in closed session Monday and a second meeting with a mediator is scheduled for next week.

approved hiring noon-hour aide Waba Alakayak.