Chesterton Tribune

Official Duneland count shows drop of 41.5 students

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The official enrollment count for the Duneland Schools this school year isn’t as bad as it was last year, but it’s not positive either.

Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer announced at Monday’s School Board meeting that the official enrollment count that determines state funding – known as the “Average Daily Membership” – is down 41.5 students from last year, bringing the tentative total to 5,700.5. For purposes of state funding, each kindergarten student is counted as one-half student.

Last year at this time, the ADM enrollment count of 5,742 reflected an even more severe decline of 126 students.

This year’s enrollment drop will mean a further reduction in state funding for Duneland. The state funding this year comes to $4,970 per pupil, but Baer said the state is expected to cut that to $4,939 next year. So a decline in student enrollment is a double whammy against Duneland, which can expect to lose about $383,000 based on the tentative enrollment and funding figures.

Baer noted that the enrollment drop is consistent with demographic projections several years ago, when Duneland studied the expansion of Liberty Elementary School. He also said student loss to the Discovery Charter School is also likely affecting the enrollment.

In a related matter, after reviewing the proposed 2012 budgets over the course of several meetings in recent months, the school board officially adopted the budgets and related required resolutions. With all funds considered, the Duneland 2012 budget totals $62.3 million.

Butz Moment of Silence

School Board President Janice Custer opened the school board meeting with a moment of silence for Spc. James Butz, a medic with the 82nd Airborne Division and a Chesterton High School graduate who was killed last month in Afghanistan. He was 21.

Board Appointments

The school board appointed members to two school committees.

The AIDS Advisory Council reviews health education curriculum dealing with AIDS and other communicable diseases. The members are: students Emily DeLache and Eric Dreischerf; school physician Dr. John Forchetti; Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett; parents Darlene Maloney and Danielle O’Reilly; teachers Pam Moore, Jane Schlichting, and Nancy Furscik; CHS assistant principal Jeff VanDrie; Karen Lain of the Porter County Health Department; and retired health professional Phoebe Jane House.

The Materials Reconsideration Committee considers request from the public to remove library materials and other items from the schools. The members are parents Linda Burke, Lori Vincent, and Michelle Chisholm; students Josh DeVries, Hannah VanDrie, and Matt Jones; and staff members Carrie Disney, Hilda Demuth Lutze and Karla Wilson.

Scouts Recognized

Baer also noted that a number of Boy Scouts from Troop 929 were in attendance at the school board meeting as part of their work to earn badges. After the meeting, the boys interviewed school board members and administrators about the topics discussed at the meeting.

The Scouts participating were Mark Hodgkiss, David Hodgkiss, Zavier Conrad, Damien Thomas, Micha Nord, Tristan Dooley, Kyle Paliga, Bill Albertson, and Mitchell Smith.

Maintenance Facility

The school board approved a bid totaling $477,400 with Chester Inc. of Valparaiso to build a new maintenance facility at Westchester Intermediate School to house equipment now stored outdoors. Architect Bob Gerometta said the bidding was very tight, with the best bids differing by about $3,000. Chester was the lowest bidder in both the base bid and the alternatives for a warm room and an asphalt drive. The school board had budgeted $500,000 for the project.

The work will begin this month.


The board made only staff appointments. Appointed coaches to intramural volleyball at Westchester Intermediate were Cara Ellerthorpe and Nicole Wilson.

Tax Cap Meeting

Baer urged all residents to attend an upcoming meeting hosted by Porter County officials on the impact of Indiana’s tax caps. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 24 at Chesterton Middle School.


Posted 10/4/2011