The year was a solid B for Gulf District Schools: trends are on the upswing, a few gusts of controversy.

The core data was good; enrollment trends were up, the budget on more stable footing after years of cost-cutting and the workforce bolstered by 19 new teachers across all four schools.

School grades also improved as did test scores in the second full year of the Florida Standards Assessment, though there were still areas, English and language arts, some elementary school grades, of concern.

The School Board welcomed a new member, Cindy Belin, said goodbye to Linda Wood as she retired after 30 years with the district and Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton was among the many constitutional officers who faced no re-election challenge.

That all was counter-balanced a bit by the rollout of a teacher scholarship award program which divided the rank-and-file and, led to the district being forced by the state for the return of bonus dollars, which in turn led to more strife and division as some teachers agreed to return the money, others did not.

That tension, at least initially, poisoned negotiations on a new labor deal with the union representing teachers and employees.

In the end, the union and district agreed on the first substantive increases in salary and benefits in a decade, though an unfair labor practice complaint from the union moves to a full hearing in late January.

And all stakeholders looked ahead to the spring of 2017 and a renewal of a one-mill operational levy which has stabilized the ledgers the past eight years.