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      Iron Mountain School District tries to deal with deficit

      The Iron Mountain School District is looking at ending the year in a $150,000 to $160,000 deficit.

      â??If we werenâ??t to do anything to rectify that, next year's projected deficit could be as high as about $550,000,â?? said Superintendent Tom Jayne.

      To make sure that projected deficit doesnâ??t happen, the school board is generating ideas to increase revenue or to cut costs.

      â??We are looking at hopefully increasing revenue through the sale of some of our unused property; the Central School, perhaps,â?? Jayne said. â??Also, unfortunately, a worst case scenario would be to ask all the employees throughout the district to take a 7.5 percent salary reduction starting next September.â??

      The pay cut would be for all employees including administration, and it's still tentative at this point as the board and the teachers' union are still in contract negotiations. Those in the Iron Mountain Education Association have been meeting at the Crisis Center in downtown Iron Mountain to discuss their proposal.

      â??Weâ??re going on two years without a contract, and our proposal doesn't ask for anything more than what is currently in our contract,â?? said IMEA representative, Danielle Dumais. â??Weâ??re not asking for an increase; we're asking for them to just honor what's already there. One of our biggest concerns with a 7.5 percent decrease to our entire staff is that it produces less economy for our community. Thereâ??s going to be roughly $1.5 million less for our community that will be spent here.â??

      â??It's not a road that we want to exercise, but it's something that we have to, at least, look at as a worst case scenario in order to open the doors come fall for everybody,â?? Jayne said.

      The union said that a hired financial analyst reported close to $350,000 in overspending in the areas of Operations/Maintenance and Purchased Services. But the school board said they've already cut $1.4 million within the budget in the last two years.

      â??We have asked a third party fact finder to look at both sides of the proposals, and they are a neutral entity that will render a non-binding decision sometime hopefully by late spring, early summer,â?? Jayne said. â??I think if both the board, administration and the employees can put aside our differences and work together to come up with solutions, it will only strengthen our resolve in moving forward.â??