The Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians is helping Suttons Bay Public Schools close a budget gap. The tribe awarded the district $180,000 yesterday in revenue sharing from its casino operations. All that money will go toward eliminating a deficit this year of about half-a-million dollars.
The school received by far the largest share of the nearly million dollars in grants announced by the tribe this week. Twice a year the tribe awards money through local governments under its consent agreement with the State of Michigan.
Mike Murray, superintendent of Suttons Bay Public Schools, says it was an honor to receive such a large contribution amongst the more than 50 awards.
"And at the same time really affirming of their emphasis on supporting youth."
About 30 percent of the district's students are Native Americans, mostly from the Grand Traverse Band.
The school had asked the tribe for $400,000 to deal with the deficit. Murray says Suttons Bay is transitioning to a school that offers a significant amount of cyber classes to students around Michigan and has a cash flow problem this year.
Tribal Chairman Derek Bailey, who attended Suttons Bay, says the money recognizes the greatly improved relations between the tribe and the school.
"At times the relationships were strained," said Bailey. "This is a time for us to step forward and assist."
Murray says fundraising in the community has also brought in more than $100,000 to narrow the budget gap.