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      U.P. school now out of debt

      The Ewen-Trout Creek School has been in heavy debt for a number of years, and has had to make many budget cuts including layoffs and cutting school programs. As of now, that is no longer the case and ETC has taken a turn in the right direction financially.

      Ewen-Trout Creek School has been in increasingly heavy debt for years, and the staff and students have had to pay the price, but the school has finally turned things around for the better.

      "Ewen-Trout Creek has emerged from its deficit elimination plan two years earlier than originally projected, and now has a positive fund balance. We are no longer in debt," said Loren Vannest, superintendent, principal, and athletics director. Because of consolidated administration, Vannest is one of the several school employees that have had to take on multiple responsibilities. Thanks to impact aid, a higher than projected enrollment, and a mild winter that lowered utility costs, the school ended up around $41,000 in the positive. Several years ago, the state cracked down and forced the school to administer a debt elimination plan.

      The school has had to lay off staff members, eliminate electives like woodshop and home economics, and stop funding athletics, which are now supported by the Booster Club. "We've cut classes, we were down to a basic curriculum. There's no doubt that the students have suffered, but we were still able to give them the education that they needed to go to college, and a lot of our students have succeeded," said John Pinkerton, President of the ETC Board of Education.

      The school will still be maintaining a conservative budget, but they plan to restore more classes and positions over time. The budget for the 2012-2013 school year is around $2.2 million. A normal budget ranges from $2.2 million to $2.7 million.

      The board of education and Vannest are optimistic that the options for students are going to get better. Vannest has a diverse educational background and is a brand new superintendent at ETC. He is delighted to start with such positive news and says he plans to keep things positive.

      "While everyone else is making cuts, Ewen-Trout Creek is already lean, and we can actually start putting things back in. So we are ahead of the curve as far as that's concerned at this point," Vannest said.