Shortfalls in funding from the state are causing Duneland Schools to axe a
large portion of their summer school programs.
During Monday’s school board meeting, assistant superintendent Monte Moffett
announced new financial woes for the school district as the state has
decided to cut back the number of classes in the summer school program for
which it will reimburse costs.
The only courses offered this year will be reading for grades 1-3 and
classes for grades 9-12 which will count towards graduation.
“We will not be offering grades 4-8 summer school,” Moffett said in a memo
to the school board. “I’m not real happy about it, but given the financial
situation we can’t supplement these courses.”
The Bridges program which helps struggling eighth-graders prepare for high
school will be sustained for the summer since the program offers credits and
Moffett said the state reimburses Category 1 courses but will not subsidize
Category 2 or Category 3 courses this year.
Although the school does not have a total projection on how many students
will be impacted, Moffett later told the Chesterton Tribune 212
students in grades 1-6 took summer school in 2011 with the majority being in
grades 1-4. The count for middle school students was 47 that same year.
“It’s a shame. The sad part is the kids who need it won’t get to have it,”
Moffett told the Tribune.
The state may have opted to keep on subsidizing 1-3 reading for the purpose
of the new IREAD-3 assessment where students are required to pass a standard
reading exam or be retained in the third grade, Moffett said.
Students who fail the class during the school year can take it again at the
end of their summer school course. This is the first year the exam is to be
The schools by right could have carried on with the non-Category 1 courses
but it is “not financially feasible,” Moffett said. He said if the school
tried to operate the classes on course fees, the costs “would be steep” for
parents enrolling their children.
The school’s course fees for available summer school classes will not be
changed due to the state’s cuts. As previously announced in February, fees
will be $125 per class at every grade level. Summer school for grades 1-3
will begin on June 11 and continue until June 28 Monday through Thursday
with no class on June 20. High school sessions will start in two blocks, the
first from June 11-July 3 with no class on June 22 and June 29, and the
second from July 5 to July 26 with no class on July 20.
Moffett said he could not forecast if the courses will be restored next
Class Finishes Energy Efficient Home
In other matters Monday, Vocational Building Trades instructor Jeff Larson
gave the board a short presentation on his classes’ completion of their
latest house construction project in the High Meadows West subdivision in
Jackson Township. Larson’s students learned about the design of energy
efficient homes and also made it handicap accessible.
The construction, which started in late 2009 and finished in 2011, was done
jointly with Kankakee Valley REMC. Larson said the 2,380 square-foot house
(not including the basement) was originally listed at $312,000 but is
currently being marketed at $297,000.
He said the home’s occupants would probably not have to pay more than $800
in energy costs for the entire unit per year and if the $800 level is
surpassed, REMC has agreed to pay part of the costs.
“It appeals to a wide range of clients, even in a tough market,” Larson
The profits collected on the sale of the home will be put back into the
vocational program, which is separate from the school district’s budget.
Larson said this is the fifth house he’s finished with students since he
started teaching in 1998. The class consists of about 30 juniors and seniors
who put in a couple hours during each school day to work on the house and
some have volunteered to help on the weekends.
“If they have work to do, they’re more than happy to do it,” said Larson,
who mentioned students in the program receive dual credit from Ivy Tech.
Larson said those in the program have about a 95 percent job placement rate
in a related field. Many students go on to be Journey Level electricians and
IB Diplomas on
Jim Goetz, principal of Chesterton High School, addressed the board on
increases seen in the number of seniors graduating with international
baccalaureate program diplomas which provides the opportunity for entry into
higher education. Duneland saw five seniors receive the diploma this year,
which is actually more than the Valparaiso School District.
Goetz said the number of IB diplomas should increase as 22 juniors are
currently in the program and he hopes eventually one-third of each
graduating class will have the recognition which many colleges look for.
“Colleges get a better understanding of a student with an IB diploma.
They’re going to get a kid that knows how to work,” he said.
Goetz also reported progress in the Bridges program helping 8th graders get
on track with high school. He hopes the program can generate higher
graduation rates. Currently 33 percent in the program go on to complete high
In another matter, Goetz said he is collaborating with Purdue North Central
on a “1+3 program” that will allow seniors to receive college credit,
possibly enough to count as their first year of college meaning the student
would only have to take three years of college after high school if they
decide to attend PNC.
Goetz said students could also decide to work towards a second major or
lighten their course load.
“There are a lot of different things that are going to come from this,”
Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer liked the idea that families could
save money not having to pay for one year sending their child to PNC.
Baer inquired if the measure would require the Duneland School Corporation
to provide additional training to its teaching staff. Goetz said some
additional schooling may be needed in order for teachers to become adjunct
The board approved moving their next meeting to April 9, from April 2, due
to scheduling conflicts.