The Duneland School
Board on Monday unanimously approved 5-0 a resolution for a purchase
agreement to sell a 25.6-acre parcel of land near the Haglund Rd.
intersection of Ind. 149 to the Town of Burns Harbor.
The parcel is
located in the area where Burns Harbor is planning developments for a new
The schools had
acquired the land in 1967 when it was known as the Westchester Township
School Corporation, said Duneland Schools attorney Chuck Parkinson. It was
also the same year that the Town of Burns Harbor was incorporated.
Currently, the land
is being used for farming, Parkinson said. Duneland Schools has offered a
farm lease to the highest bidder, the last time in 2015 on a term of not to
exceed a maximum of three years.
negotiations with the Town to purchase the land have occurred and the
understanding is that the property will be sold at the average price of two
appraisals done on the property, which came to $242,500.
The purchase will
be paid for by the Town of Burns Harbor over three years. The transaction is
expected to close on Feb. 28, 2019, according to the purchase agreement.
The Burns Harbor
Town Council is expected to take a vote on the purchase agreement at its
In school board
comments, board member Brandon Kroft, who serves as the non-voting
representative on the Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission, said he
appreciates the cooperation between the Town and the School District.
“(Burns Harbor) has
some intended uses for this property that is going to be beneficial for us
in the long run,” Kroft told his colleagues.
Later Monday, Burns
Harbor RDC President and Town Council member Marcus Rogala told the
Chesterton Tribune the “main reason for purchasing this land is having
an advantage of economic growth” within the town, although there are no
definitive plans at this time. The Town owns four acres west of the Duneland
School property which has been the site for its Food Truck Square.
The RDC believes
the acquisition could initiate conversations with potential developers and
show its dedication for growth, Rogala said.
Brown Mansion Lease
Also, the board
approved 5-0 to renew the lease of the historic Brown Mansion at 700 W.
Porter Ave. behind Chesterton Middle School with the Westchester Public
The renewal is for
just five years instead of ten years, said Parkinson. The Library has used
the Brown Mansion for its Westchester Twp. History Museum since 2005.
The basic lease
terms are the same, Parkinson said, but the rental has increased and will
start at $18,000 and increase by $500 each year thereafter. The WPL Board of
Trustees agreed on the lease at its December meeting.
month’s announcement by Duneland Schools Superintendent Dave Pruis that he
will be retiring on June 30, Board President Kristin Kroeger said that the
board will be hiring BWP & Associates LTD. of Libertyville, Ill., to conduct
the search process for the next schools superintendent. The firm specializes
in assisting school districts find executive leaders.
Kroeger said one of
the partners at BWP is Dr. Ron Barnes who has spent many years in education
in Indiana and was a part of the leadership search program at Indiana
The board voted 5-0
to use BWP’s services. It met with representatives from BWP after the public
meeting to go over planning and a timeline. The Duneland Schools will launch
its recruitment effort and build a profile for an ideal candidate that will
also include a community survey, Kroeger said.
The opening will be
posted and all applications will be handled electronically, she said.
In other business,
the board by 5-0 vote renewed administrator and director contracts for the
central administration which Pruis said now includes the schools’ athletic
director and the K-12 music director.
The board at its
last meeting had approved contract renewals for building administrators and
Financial Officer Lynn Kwilaz presented the list of year-end budget
transfers for 2016. A total of $12,924 was transferred in the General Fund
budget, $195,442 was transferred in the Capital Projects Fund budget and
$91,000 was transferred in the Transpiration Budget.
School Board rescheduled their April 3 meeting because that would be the day
of returning from spring break. The board will meet the next Monday, April