Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Board hires from within: Pruis to be Duneland Schools Superintendent

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer won’t have to reach far when he passes the torch on July 1.

At the close of Thursday night’s Duneland School Board meeting, the board made the surprise move of voting unanimously to offer current Assistant Superintendent of Operations Dave Pruis the chance to be Baer’s successor.

Pruis humbly accepted the offer saying he was “most appreciative of the opportunity.”

“I look forward to working with a staff of wonderful people,” he told the Tribune after the meeting.

Board President Mike Trout said the decision to hire Pruis came forward in the board’s discussions with Indiana School Boards Association Director of Services Mike Adamson and Indiana State University education leadership associate professor Bob Boyd who guided the board in starting its search. The candidate they said should be someone who will have a “respectful and healthy” relationship with the board members. And then, as Trout put it, “a light bulb went off.”

“A name came up we all respected. It was Dr. Pruis,” Trout said, which was met with applause from Duneland staff and administrators sitting in the audience.

Trout said that the school board wished to see “a seamless transition” and felt its choice of Pruis accomplished that.

Board member Kristin Kroeger said the board wanted to find a successor “with the same heart that (Baer) has” who would be helpful to the Duneland staff. She said she discussed with building administrators around DSC what qualities they would like to see in a superintendent and Pruis’ name “always came up.”

“It became very clear that someone with that heart was right here in the school district,” she said.

Fellow board member Ralph Ayers also noted Pruis’ expertise with the school budgets which was also an attribute of Baer’s the board wanted to continue. He said Pruis’ reputation is well-respected not only locally but throughout the state.

“He is also one of the few people who fully understand the (State’s) student funding formula,” said Ayres.

Pruis’ firsthand experience and knowledge of the school budgets will be important in the school corporation’s future, said Board member John Marshall, as two key personnel who have dealt with Duneland’s finances a long time are retiring-- Baer and DSC Business Manager Bonnie Gaston.

Marshall said Duneland is currently at a “very critical time” when it comes to funding, as the state has continually sought to shrink the budget, and he believes Pruis to be the best person to lead.

Trout told the Tribune that Pruis did not asked to be considered as it was the board who first approached him with the offer.

The board forwent opening the position up to applicants and is not required by law or school board protocol to take applications, Trout said.

Details about Pruis’ contract, including a yearly salary figure, will be discussed publicly by the board at an upcoming meeting, Trout added. The current superintendent salary for Duneland is $128,000.

Baer in his comments to the board expressed his approval for his replacement.

“You’ve done good,” he said with a laugh.

Pruis and Baer had worked together as administrators at Oregon-Davis High School before either of them came to Duneland.

Prior to joining Duneland as assistant superintendent in 2003, Pruis finished four years as superintendent of Hamilton Community Schools north of Indianapolis and seven years as superintendent at Union-North United School Corporation in Lakeville before that.

Baer announced in January that he would be retiring on June 30 after his 26th year at Duneland, including six years as principal at Chesterton High School.

As for who will be the next assistant superintendent of operations, Trout said Pruis has free range to pick who his team member will be and then make a recommendation to the school board for hire.

 

Posted 3/15/2013