Gladstone school board fills seat left vacant in August

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone Area School Board filled the vacancy created by the resignation of Bill Milligan accepted last month. The board selected Tom Harrell to fill the post at its meeting Monday night.

Milligan, formerly the board secretary, submitted his resignation letter to the board on Aug. 28. He requested his resignation begin immediately because he had taken up permanent residence outside the district and was therefore ineligible to hold a school board position with Gladstone Area Schools, according to Michigan law.

“We have three candidates for that vacancy,” said Board President Linda Howlett. “First of all I would like to say it’s great to see that much interest and that I think it’s a very positive thing.”

The three candidates that applied for the open seat were Virginia Bigsby, Tom Harrell, and Gerry Niedermaier.

All three candidates submitted resumes and answered follow up questions asked by the current board prior to Monday night’s meeting.

“This is an opportunity I guess for the community to take a little pride, not just that we had three people who were willing to step up and volunteer to fill this vacancy, but that we had three quality people that have indicated that they’re willing to do their homework, and put our kids first, and do what’s in the best interest of the district,” said Superintendent Jay Kulbertis.

The board chose Harrell to fill the open position. He will fill out the remainder of Milligan’s term, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2014.

“It’s a real tough position to be in where you have more than one person willing to serve,” said Kulbertis. “It creates that situation where there might be the thought that there’s winners and losers, and really the winner here is the district because any of these three outstanding candidates would serve this board very admirably, and of course we appreciate their time, their interest, and their commitment to our kids.”

Board members suggested the remaining candidates consider running for the four board positions that will become available in 2014.

“I based my decision on one of the candidates had prior interest in running, and I guess that was what made the decision, but I would hope that if someone isn’t chosen they would consider running in the near future,” said Board Treasurer Paul Capodilupo.

Also during the meeting, the board adopted the annual audit report completed by Anderson, Tackman & Company, PLC of Escanaba. Gladstone Area Schools was given a clean opinion, meaning the district’s financial statements are materially accurate.

One issue brought to the board’s attention as a result of the audit was changes to the Michigan school code that require 100 percent of the district’s cash held at the end of the year must be insured.

“As with any large, governmental entity, much of your cash that was held at the end of June 30 is not insured. FDIC covers $250,000 and most entities chose to use that as what they have for insurability, which means a good portion of your liability is not quote/unquote ‘insured,'” explained Alan Stotz, principal CPA at Anderson, Tackman & Company.

Rather than breaking up the deposits between banks, Stotz recommended asking the banks to collateralize the money. Also discussed was purchasing private insurance to compensate for the inability of a single bank to insure the funds through the FDIC. Either option would have to be approved by the board.

“This has never been an issue before. This is only because of the school code change,” said Stotz.