AEA voices concerns to board

ALPENA – Alpena Public Schools Board of Education heard a statement about the district’s method to eliminate its budget deficit from Greg Gehrke, Alpena High School math instructor, representing the Alpena Education Association employees during the public comment session of the board meeting on Monday.

“We want the board to look into the future,” Gehrke said. “We want to challenge every member of the board to think outside the box.”

The negotiating team is urging the board to look at downsizing the district based on the continuing decline of the student population, and to restructure the students per building, Gehrke said.

“We’re in a deficit,” Gehrke said. “There are hard things that have to happen for the district to stay open.”

Gehrke said the association believes the decreases proposed by the board will be only a bandage on the budget and not a solution, and the association asked board members to make a future plan for growth and stability of the district.

After the public comment portion of the meeting, board members passed a resolution to authorize a closing signature with Meijer Inc. for sale of the 1.44 acre parcel of land APS owns north of the railroad tracks near the proposed building site for the new Meijer store. The property would sell for $75,000, and the district already has approved the sale but wanted to put a resolution on paper authorizing the closing signature.

“The closing was originally scheduled for Nov. 20,” Diane Block, assistant superintendent for operations and Title I director, said. “The closing has been delayed until Dec. 12.”

The contract for sales does not expire until Dec. 31, so Meijer would have until then to go through with the paperwork and closing portion of the property sale.

In other business:

* school board members also heard from auditors Philip Straley and Mark Sandula from Straley, Ilsley & Lamp P.C. for the Alpena Public Schools audit report. The audit showed the deficit of excess expenditures over revenue in the general fund of $863,359, but also showed the system the district has in place is in control of the federal fund expenditures, even in the current deficit.

* school count has been finalized with a count of 3,877.6 students, up from the budgeted 3,845, which is good news for the district.

* the next regular board meeting will be Dec. 16, at 5:30 p.m. in the Gerry Ludwig Board Room.

Nicole Grulke can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5687. Follow Nicole on Twitter @ng_alpenanews.