Following a set of somber budget meetings, the tone for Monday’s Duneland
School Board meeting was celebratory and rejuvenating with news about
homecoming and the placing of the CHS Girls Golf team in the state finals.
First, CHS Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck said the school raised $2,875 for
local and national charities over the course of seven days by selling the
five 4’x 8’x 6’ homecoming playhouses with the Junior class’s “Pink House”
and the Staff’s “Maroon & Gold House” leading the auctions.
The charities benefited included the Tragedy Assistance Program for
Survivors, Reef Environmental Education Foundation, Coaches vs. Cancer,
World Wildlife Fund, and the Westchester Food Pantry & Christmas for Teens.
The houses were among 40 parade entries, along with floats from Chesterton
Middle School, Westchester Middle School and over ten community floats.
“It was the biggest parade we’ve ever had,” said Zeck.
Lending a hand were over 130 volunteers for Build Night at CHS to glitz up
the houses before the big day. Volunteers were given eight hours to decorate
Local businesses gave a total of $2,000 for the houses -- Anton Insurance,
Serenity Environmental Services, Coldwell Banker Realtor Tami Bianco,
Directors of Duneland Education Foundation, and Hopkins’ Ace Hardware.
The houses were all purchased on eBay by buyers living in the Duneland
Schools District, Zeck said.
Adding to the list of successes, besides the CHS Football team’s victory
over Portage, Zeck said the school dance fundraiser for Riley’s Children
Hospital achieved a “Miracle School” designation.
But the big stars of Homecoming were the 27 students in the CHS Building
Trades vocational class who spent 14 straight school days assembling and
fortifying the Homecoming houses.
“These are high quality houses, not something you can pick up easily,” said
A few students shared with the School Board Monday how the classes made an
impact in their education. Some referred to the class as “a place where you
can be yourself” but all credited their positive experiences to class
instructor Jeff Larson.
School Board President Janice Custer presented a plaque of appreciation to
Larson for giving 14 years of charitable service and continually making a
difference in the lives of students.
“Words cannot describe what you do for our school and our school community”
added Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer.
Larson humbly accepted the honor and gave further recognition to his
students who he said enjoy working for generous causes.
“We always need
something to rally around. The kids really stepped up. A lot of us took
pride in the whole (Homecoming) project,” Larson said. Golf Team is Aces
CHS Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg introduced Girls Golf Coach Dale
Hewitt and his team of champions, one of whom was the IHSAA Girls Golf State
Champion for a second consecutive year.
Senior Kelly Grassel broke the 36-hole state record with a score of 137 on
Saturday at The Legends Golf Club in Franklin.
Grassel was recognized with her other senior teammates Marissa Kroeger,
Nicole Dutz, and Jennifer Kattalia. All their four years saw sectional
championships, state final competitions and no defeats.
“That’s pretty incredible,” said Hewitt.
Also recognized were teammates Taryn Trusty, a junior, and freshman Grace
“I tell everyone we are a team,” said Hewitt. “These are quality individuals
and I wouldn’t trade the four years I’ve had with them.”
Grassel was also named recipient of the 2012-13 IHSAA Mental Attitude Award
for Girls Golf. She told the board she will attend Michigan State University
next year and will join its golf team.
“It’s been so awesome to have so much support from the community,” Grassel
Baer said the girls not only played well but conducted themselves in
competition as respectful athletes which speak volumes for the Duneland
“We know you are good golfers but we know you (compete) in a manner that is
professional, and to represent your school like that we are really
thankful,” said Baer.
with Save the
Also on Monday, Brummitt Elementary School Principal Antonino Cammarata gave
a presentation on how his school is ready to take on a whole new community
project with the Save the Dunes group for the purpose of learning how
watersheds function. The intention of the project, Cammarata said is to
inspire community action.
Jennifer Nebe from Save the Dunes will introduce several programs to the
school. The classes will conduct most of their activity around the Lake
Starting in mid-October, Cammarata said all classes K-4th grade will study
how pollutants get into the water and ways they can be reduced or extracted.
Grades K-2 will be introduced to “Fred the Fish” and see the effects
pollutants have on wildlife. Another K-2 program will focus on the role of
water cycles in a watershed.
Grades 3 and 4 will be observing water bugs and performing water tests in
the watershed for oxygen and pH levels. “Storm Drain Stenciling” for grades
3-4 will post information in areas asking polluters not to dump waste.
“We will have a lot on our plate with this,” Cammarata said.
Looking ahead, Cammarata said in the spring the school will be involved in
an Earth Day clean up of the nearby Calumet River and will coordinate an
activity with the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association.
Save the Dunes will also be working on a grant for the school that would
allow it to purchase water testing kits and set up a permanent model about
watersheds inside the school library.
The 2013 Duneland School Budget will be submitted to the Indiana Department
of Local Government Finance as it was advertised to the board. All five
members said “yea” to the measure at the end of the meeting.
The cumulative tax rate from the budgets supported by property taxes is
expected to be 1.2407 based on a total assessed value of $2,416,992,465,
Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis said.
Giving a breakdown of the budgets, the estimated tax rate for the Debt
Service Fund is .3333; School Pension Debt Service Fund is .0833;
Transportation Fund is .1625; Bus Replacement Fund is .0333; and the
Referendum Fund is .22.
The School’s General Fund will have no county tax rate as it is supported by
a state sales tax.
As advertised, the estimate for the General Fund is $38.1 million. The total
budget is $61.1 million.
Pruis said this is the fourth year in a row the school district has seen a
decrease in its AV. This year’s total is about $11 million less than last
year according to figures from the County Auditor’s office.
The board also signed three resolutions on the School Bus Replacement plan
for 2013-2024, capital projects for 2013, and for reduction of
“Thanks for all your efforts on this. It’s a painstaking task to go through
this,” board member Mike Trout told the administration.
Ending with some good news, Baer said the state’s Average Daily Membership
count taken on Sept. 14 recorded 67 “and a fraction” more students at
Duneland this year (the fraction is counting a student who receives partial
The state uses the ADM figure in its formula for determining how much money
the school district will receive. With 67 more students, Baer said the
school should receive about $250,000 more this year.
In the personnel report, Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett announced
the appointment of Rebecca Santhouse as a Title 1 Aide at Bailly Elementary.
Resigning is Brooke Hogan, a Title 1 Aide at Bailly.
The Duneland School Board will next meet on Nov. 13.