Chesterton Tribune

Duneland School employees to pay more for insurance

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By VICKI URBANIK

For the first time since 2007, Duneland School Corporation employees will pay more for their health insurance.

The Duneland School Board on Monday approved a recommendation from a school insurance committee to boost the employee-paid premiums by 6 percent in 2012, following a review by Anton Insurance showing that the premiums will rise by at least 14 percent in Dunelandís self-funded insurance program.

Duneland Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis said that the increased premium will boost the cost for the single plan by $450 annually. Of this, the school corporation will pay 80 percent, or $360, and the employee will pay the remaining $90 increase. That translates to $7.50 per month more per employee.

For employees on the family plan, the increase will total $1,050 a year per family. Of this, Duneland will pay $840 and the employee will pay $210 more a year, or an increase of $17.50 per month.

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Also at the Duneland School Board meeting Monday, Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett gave a report on the recent parent-teacher conferences held for grades K through 8.

Attendance for grades K-4 totaled 97 percent, an improvement over last yearís 96.3 percent.

At Liberty Intermediate, 339 conferences were held, for a 96 percent turnout. Westchester Intermediate held its conferences in an open format, with 811 total. In grades 7 and 8, 444 and 507 conferences were held, respectively.

Moffett said while the attendance rate is impressive, he was also struck by comments he heard from parents who were very appreciative that Duneland continues to hold the parent-teacher meetings. He noted that not all schools continue to have conferences, now that the state has cut funding for them.

Arts Matter

Liberty Elementary staff and students gave the school board a presentation on their schoolís related arts program. All Duneland elementary schools have music, art, and physical education courses, but LES is the only one that offers the related arts on a daily rotation.

Art teacher Colin May said related arts are important in developing children academically, noting one study that found that SAT scores tend to rise 100 points per child in schools that offer related arts. Another study found that 85 percent of business executives showed that they are struggling to find individuals who possess creative ability.

As May, music teacher Lauren Smith and PE teacher Bob Nemtuda outlined the LES related arts program, six students simulated their class experiences by doing an exercise routine, performing a musical piece, and pretending to create artistic masterpieces. The participating students were third graders Esteban Lamb and Sophia Gill and fourth graders Madison Sims, Olivia Klinger, Alexis Quiroz, and Nathan Perry.

Technology Update

In an update on technology projects, director Kevin Wilson told the school board that within the past two years, Duneland has replaced 85 percent of its network infrastructure, moving more and more toward wireless. Faculty members have also been given the mobility of laptops and using technology in new ways.

For example, one teacher recorded students reading a Christmas story, with the recording easily available to another class of younger students via the Internet. In another example, a teacher started a blog discussion on a topic in which other teachers and students get to chime in.

Wilson said the use of technology allows kids to continue with their school work conveniently at home or wherever they have online access. He noted that students have a convenient way to ask questions they didnít get to ask in class, which can ebe specially important for shy students who arenít comfortable speaking in class. He added that efforts are underway for teachers to create videos outlining the points they made in the classroom.

Personnel

In personnel matters, the school accepted the resignation of Kelly Gaston as a WIS instructional aide and appointed her as a Title I aide at LIS. Appointed as an instructional aide at WIS was Joy Martinson.

 

 

Posted 12/6/2011