Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School Board approves filling vacant art and phys ed positions

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The Duneland School Board approved a plan to replace two K-4 positions--one art teacher and one physical education teacher--that it left vacant at the end of the 2017 school year.

Director of Elementary Learning and Performance Christy Jarka reported that a Related Arts Action committee consisting of herself, representatives of each grade level, and other administrators, concluded that not filling those positions resulted in students at Jackson and Brummitt not getting enough instruction in those subjects.

Jarka said best practices are for students to get 2,100 minutes of related arts instruction per year, per related art subject, and that hasn’t been happening.

“At some points, students at Jackson and Brummitt are getting about 60 percent of their time in music and less than 25 percent of their time in art and gym,” Jarka said.

Jarka said having adequate arts instruction across the board at Duneland’s nine schools keeps Duneland in compliance with the Title I program and the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), a replacement for the No Child Left Behind Act intended to bring uniformity to federal educational standards and ensure students have a level playing field.

The result of the plan is that each school will have a full-time person for each of the related arts subjects.

Jarka said the committee looked into making these changes mid-year and opted not to. “It wasn’t conducive to do that, otherwise I would have been here in December or January making this request,” Jarka said.

The replacement plan means that Duneland will hire two new, full-time elementary teachers--one for art and one physical education. Existing staff members won’t be asked to increase their commitments.

Superintendent Search

Board President Brandon Kroft explained the Board’s series of upcoming closed executive sessions, following an article in the Chesterton Tribune last week that listed the dates and times for the sessions.

Kroft said the purpose of the meetings is to conduct first round interviews with Superintendent candidates. Kroft said the Board will be interviewing every day this week and on Sunday.

The Board is conducting its own interviews to have more control over the hiring process this time around. Search consultant, BWP & Associates, took the lead filling Dr. David Pruis’ spot in 2017. This time, BWP’s involvement was limited to collecting application materials.

Summer Construction

Director of Support Services Greg Lindy received approval to go out for bids on summer paving projects. Lindy said he’s looking into installing a speedbump in the CHS lot, widening the 5th Street entrance to Bailly Elementary, and repaving the band parking lot at CHS.

Lindy also reported bids are in for ventilation work at Jackson Elementary. Lindy said he worked with an architect and an engineering firm to decide what work needed to be done. The duct work in the north section of the building and the media center will either be replaced or reconfigured. Any old duct work left will be cleaned and sterilized, and new LED lights will be installed in the ceilings. Lindy said the result will be an updated system with better airflow.

The Board approved the low bid from Hasse Construction, out of Calumet City, Ill., for $815,500. “It sounds like a big number, but it was a lot lower than I thought it would be,” Lindy said.

Board Secretary Ron Stone said Jackson’s ventilation has been a long-standing issue.

Superintendent’s Comments

Interim Superintendent Judy Malasto reminded parents that the April 3 eLearning Day was cancelled. Students are to attend school as usual tomorrow.

Malasto also reminded anyone interested that the next referendum information session is at 2 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, April 3, at the Westchester Public Library Baugher Center, 100 Indiana Avenue, Chesterton.

There will also be an open house for the Westchester Intermediate Robotics team in the Westchester Intermediate cafeteria from 5 to 7 p.m. tomorrow. The open house celebrates the WIS Robotics team’s forthcoming trip to a world championship competition with their robot, Bob 3.0.

May Meeting Schedule

The Board will not meet the first Monday in May. Instead, the Board opted to reschedule its regular meeting to Wednesday, May 8, at 7:30 a.m. and will hold a special session the last week of May.


Posted 4/2/2019






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