Duneland Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis quietly expressed his
displeasure at Tuesday’s school board meeting about the way state lawmakers
have chosen to fund school corporations like Duneland versus how it will
handle school vouchers in the new state biannual budget.
As school administrators prepare for their annual budget work, Pruis said
there will be two counts taken by the state for the average daily
membership, or student head count, for the school funding formula, one in
September and now one in February.
Pruis said the state is now budgeting schools on a fiscal year, July to
June, rather than on calendar year, which is why there will be two counts.
He said the state wants an “estimate” from schools next week as a
preliminary figure for the September ADM count and asked teachers to submit
to him their attendance counts by Monday.
Pruis then read the board the per-student foundation figures for fiscal
years 2013, 2014, and 2015 compared to the amount choice scholarship or
voucher students will get. For Fiscal Year 2013, Duneland receives $4,348
per student while the voucher amount is $4,500. In FY 2014, Duneland is
expected to get $4,569 per student, the voucher amount is expected to
increase to $4,700. For FY 2015, Duneland is expected to get $4,587 per
student while the voucher amount is expected to reach $4,800.
For full day Kindergarten, Duneland is estimated to receive $2,448 per
student for FY 2014 and $2,472 for FY 2015, Pruis added.
What concerns Pruis even more is the fact that Duneland has paid $6.5
million on debts out of its general fund and debt service fund since 2004
for the loans taken out during the 2001 bankruptcy of Bethlehem Steel while
the state this year decided to forgive charter schools throughout the state
of their common school loans worth $91 million.
“I will get off my soapbox for now,” Pruis said.
The one positive thing Pruis mentioned was that Duneland will still receive
$1,860,524 this year from a measure that says a school can use 3.5 percent
of its 2005 tuition in its capital projects fund.
Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Monte Moffett reported hires of the
past month, as well as a few resignations and one retirement.
William Heintz will come to Chesterton Middle School as a Business teacher
after teaching the last six years at Climax-Scott Community Schools in
Ian MacLaverty will also be a Business teacher at CMS. He previously was
CHS’ career center specialist and currently is an instructional aide.
Renae Micchia will be a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at CHS. She
taught for four years in the Tri-County School Corporation.
Also at CHS, Josh Coots has been appointed as an English and Social Studies
teacher. He graduated from Purdue University this year and did his student
teaching at Wheeler High School.
A CHS alum, Robert Blumenthal is to be a new assistant principal at the high
school. He recently served as Dean of Students at Highland High School.
Lindsey G. Megysei has been hired as guidance counselor for Liberty
Intermediate School. A Merrillville HS graduate, she had been a family case
manager for the Indiana Department of Child Services.
Resignations included CHS English teacher Douglas Pishkur, DSC High Ability
Aide Cheryl Alvarez, Jackson Elementary Music teacher Shannon Stutler,
Liberty Elementary reading specialist Trisha Porter, and WIS instructional
aide Nancy Dubovich.
Instructional aide Debbie Fieffer will be retiring from CHS.
Drivers Ed teachers this summer will be Scott Truelove, Rob Hansen, Greg
Kearney, Dennis Leonard, Richard Hurey, and Rex Miller.
Moffett also presented the textbook rental fees for CMS and CHS. All
English, Math, Science and History textbooks are between $15-20 for grades 7
and 8. The majority of CHS textbook rentals have stayed close to $20 for
This year saw the inclusion of a new Science AP course at CHS. Speech and
Computer classes have been added at the middle school.
Also Tuesday, Liberty Twp. Elementary Principal Christy Jarka reported
percentages of Duneland students that have been involved in the High Ability
program this year per grade level.
Jarka, who is director of the entire program and oversees the grades K-4
portion, said 8 percent of kindergartners are in High Ability. For first
grade, the percentage is 11, second grade is 22 percent, third grade is 17
percent, and for fourth grade 22 percent. The overall for K-4 is 16 percent
of students, Jarka said.
In fifth and sixth grades, there are roughly 25 percent involved in High
Ability. At the middle school, 32 percent of seventh graders are involved in
gifted and talented programs and 33 percent of eighth graders.
While not a percentage, Jarka said CHS reported over 1,400 students are
included in High Ability.
Students in grades Kindergarten, second and fourth are given a “SAGES” test
to measure their potential in a High Ability program. Other things
considered are the student’s ISTEP scores and a combination of other tests.
Jarka said the proportion of students in the programs fluctuates each year.
She said parents can get more information on the Duneland School Corporation
website under Programs and Services.
Baer bids adieu
The meeting ended on a happy note with a cake and punch reception for
Superintendent of Schools Dirk Baer, who is retiring his post on June 30.
“I have nothing but good words for Dr. Baer, but he has pulled the trigger
and will be taking off,” said board president Mike Trout who mentioned that
Baer will still live in the area when he retires.
Baer thanked the board for allowing him “the opportunity to serve the
children of the Duneland community” and that any success of his in the last
26 years has been because of the people and students he’s worked with.
“Gee, I guess we did something right,” he said.
Tuesday was not Baer’s last meeting, however. The DSC board will meet on
June 24 to discuss personnel matters.
It was the last meeting for longtime DSC business manager Bonnie Gaston, who
will be taking time off before her retirement, also on June 30.
Trout congratulated Gaston on her 45 years as a Duneland employee.
“She has served us well with a lot of things. She has been a friend as well
as a mentor,” said Trout.
No word has been made yet on who will fill Gaston’s shoes, or that of
assistant superintendent of operations as Pruis moves up to Baer’s spot on
July 1. Board member Ralph Ayres hinted to the Chesterton Tribune the
new persons may be announced at the June 24 meeting.
Not trusting the weather gods, with a 40 percent chance of rain, CHS
Principal Jim Goetz told the board that this year’s commencement ceremony
will be moved indoors. The ceremony will be at 7 p.m. on Thursday at the