Chesterton Tribune



New school year off to smooth start; no surprises expected for 2015 budget

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Registration is running without a hitch, ISTEP scores are up, Trojan fall football is warming up, and school system finances are stable, the Duneland School Board was told Tuesday.

Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz told the board Tuesday that from her projections, the 2015 budget “will be very close to what was advertised” for this year, with just a few minor differences.

The board is looking to start its budget work at a Monday, Aug. 25, meeting with a public hearing scheduled a few weeks later on Sept. 8.

Kwilasz said levied funds, like the bus replacement fund, will see modest increases because of the annual maximum levy growth set by the state. The growth quotient for 2015 is 2.7 percent. “It’s kind of like a cost of living increase,” she said.

The corporation looks to purchase six replacement buses in 2015, the same number as this year.

In the referendum fund, DSC will be seeking the full 22 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which will generate more than $5 million to be used to shore up the General Fund.

Kwilasz said the total advertised for the Capital Projects Fund will be lower this year as the bonds for the pension debt service will be neutralized.

Regarding the General Fund, which pays employee salaries and benefits, the budget is determined through a state funding formula and Kwilasz said she will speak on that more at the next meeting.

ISTEP scores

Whatever strategy the Duneland schools are implementing to improve ISTEP testing results, it “seems to be working,” said Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz.

Overall, Duneland schools surpassed the state average by a substantial margin, with 86.2 percent passing English, 90 percent passing math, and 82.1 percent passing both.

Those are among the highest scores in the last five years, Goetz said, commending the teaching staff. “Across the board, we’ve improved at every grade,” Goetz said.

He also pointed out Chesterton Middle School “showed huge improvements” this year. CMS saw its 8th grade scores rise from 69.9 percent passing both Math and English in 2013 to 79.8 percent this year.

Both 7th and 8th grades saw 84 percent pass the English portion and 88.2 percent pass the math. In 2013, 79.8 percent passed in English and 83.1 passed in Math.

“We’re happy with the results, but not satisfied until we see perfect scores. Except for Jackson Elementary third grade. They made 100 percent (passing) in Language Arts,” he said.

School Board President Ralph Ayres expressed his satisfaction with the schools’ performances.

“We seem to be going in the right direction,” he said.

Life goes on

Superintendent of Schools David Pruis said he hasn’t heard of “any major difficulties” at any of the schools with registration.

Last year, glitches were reported across the school district with the new online registration format. Goetz, at the time, said the snafus would be worked out for this year.

Registration continues today at CHS for all grades from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., CHS Principal Jeff Van Drie said. He said 1,100 students had already registered online before in person registration began.

Pruis mentioned the school district will see about 30 new teachers this year. “That’s an awful lot of new faces and we’ll be happy to see them all on Thursday (for orientation).”

In other news, Pruis said Yost Elementary school won a “grand prize” of $1,000 for their participation in the Kids Caring Community service projects, such as helping the local food pantry. The money will go toward the purchase of new technology devices, Pruis said.

Duneland Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg said the CHS Boys Football will face Lafayette-Jeff in a scrimmage game this Friday at 6 p.m. Soccer, volleyball and golf teams have also started their seasons.

Meanwhile, Ayres commended the street departments of Porter County, Chesterton, Burns Harbor and Porter for making the roads drivable for buses over the summer in light of a snow-packed winter. “I think people are very pleased with what’s occurred.”

No comments for Rainy Day

In other business, the board held a public hearing on the appropriation of $185,000 from the Rainy Day Fund for special uses such as purchase of a new delivery truck with a lift gate and an emergency generator for the special services building.

The public hearing was advertised in the newspaper on July 31. No citizens came before the board to speak.

The board members approved the appropriation unanimously.

Also, the board authorized the schools to publish the DSC annual performance in local newspapers. The report is included in today’s Chesterton Tribune.



Posted 8/13/2014




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