fared well in the Indiana Department of Education’s most recent grading
results for school accountability, but administrators aired frustration over
how the state currently measures a school’s performance.
formula for A-F is flawed,” sad Duneland Schools Superintendent David Pruis.
Schools are rewarded when they show student advancement, but are penalized
if no improvement is shown which can harm schools if they are already
performing at a formidable level.
“You drop a letter
grade if you don’t show any improvement. I don’t get it,” Pruis said.
grades were released on Nov. 5 after being embargoed by the DOE for a few
weeks. The board was given a “report card” charting the results of the nine
Duneland Schools by Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz.
corporation showed improvement in all areas, Goetz said, most specifically
at Westchester Intermediate which went from a C grade to an A, and
Chesterton Middle School which improved from C to B.
Goetz said CMS
attempted to appeal their grade because new students came into the school
from out of state and had not taken the ISTEP testing, yet they were part of
the students included in the total.
wanted those students to be “taken out of the common denominator” but the
state ended up denying the appeal, he said.
The school district
as a whole earned an A grade this year, a shift upward from the B grade it
received in 2013. The strongest schools were Jackson and Yost Elementary.
“We’re very happy
with them, but not satisfied,” Goetz said. There will be new standards
coming in next year that will be a challenge for Duneland teachers and
administrators, as they are net yet known, he said. “We don’t know where
it’s going to be going.”
Pruis said he
listened to State Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz this week
and hopes the future system will measure “a true growth factor” that is
easier for school officials and the public to understand.
are initiated, Pruis said Duneland is poised to adapt to the changes. The
primary drive of the school district is to improve the abilities of every
student, he said.
board member Kristin Kroeger who said the Duneland schools yearn to “raise
the bar” and that if there are changes, the board will be interested in
The Indiana General
Assembly will convene a few days before the board’s next meeting on
Wednesday, Jan. 14, said Board President Ralph Ayres.
$1.5 million moved
The board voted
unanimously Tuesday to allow administrators to move $1 million out of the
schools’ General Fund and $500,000 from the Referendum Fund to prevent
employee-paid premiums from spiking in their health insurance for 2015.
have seen “a double digit increase” in insurance costs because of new
regulations in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and more
claims incurred due to increased participation in the plan, said Pruis.
healthcare act, the out-of-pocket maximum for a marketplace plan is $6,600
for individuals and $13,200 for families in 2015, but the goal is to stay
below those margins, Pruis said.
cannot be provided with compensation increases, Pruis said, the
administration felt it “would be unfair and unreasonable” to institute
additional health insurance costs “on the backs of the employees,” Pruis
There will be no
major adjustments to the plan from 2014, Pruis said. According to the
Duneland Schools’ self-insured health plan with Anthem, out-of-pocket limits
for in-network providers are $750 maximum per individual with an overall
deductible of $250, and $1,500 maximum per family with a deductible of $500.
Out-of-network provider maximums are $1,500 per individual with a $500
deductible and $3,000 per family with $1,000 deductible.
Before the board’s
vote to renew the insurance plan, Pruis told the board that money is not
going out of schools’ funds. “We are transferring it to ourselves in our
self-insurance fund,” he said. “This is one way to avoid a minimal increase
to our employees. We consider this to be our best option. We’re not going to
be taking any more from our health insurance fund, at least not this year.”
Board member John
Marshall said in agreement, “It’s the right thing to do.”
The plan will begin
on Jan. 1 and the enrollment period deadline has passed.
Also on Tuesday,
the board welcomed news of $21,107.50 in donations to the school district
from June to November 2014.
Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz said Duneland’s donors this year included the
Duneland Education Foundation, local PTOs, and Kappa Kappa Kappa.
“We very much
appreciate the support our donors bring to the Duneland Schools,” said
Pruis expressed his
gratitude, mentioning that the contributions are used to keep various
programs available for the students. “There are all kinds of opportunities
we wouldn’t have otherwise if it weren’t for these donations.”
The board approved
an updated agreement with the Northwest Indiana Educational Services
Corporation. The measure carried no financial responsibility or extra
burdens for the school corporation, Pruis told the board, just necessary
Kwilasz was also
given approval by resolution to close out all end-of-the-year accounts for
2014 and to conduct transfers in school funds so they balance out before
Jan. 1. She said she will report any modifications at the board’s January
CHS gives back
Much has happened
since the board met in November, Pruis said, but he kept his comments to
student achievement highlights.
The CHS Student
Council raised $1,000 in their Trick or Treat and will donate the amount to
Dunebrook Community Partners which brings aid to victims of child abuse and
neglect. Another $1,000 was raised by the high school for the local food
pantry, said Pruis, adding he’s proud that CHS students “give back, give
back, give back.”
newspaper Sandscript and its yearbook Singing Sands both earned honors this
year from the Indiana High School Press Association.
congratulations to students in the CMS orchestra and band who were picked as
representatives in the 2014 Indiana Bandmasters Association North All-Region
Honor Band on Nov. 22 and 23.
Pruis said the 42nd
Madrigal Dinner this year put on by the CHS Music Department sold out all
five performances and was well received by all who attended.
Ayres said he asked
the Madrigal director and found out that CHS has the longest streak of any
school “anywhere” of hosting Madrigal Dinners.
Pruis concluded by
wishing everyone in the Duneland community “a safe, healthy, happy holiday