Funding for Duneland Schools is still plummeting according to the latest
figures supplied by the Indiana Department of Government Finance.
Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis presented the Duneland School Board with
figures from the certified 2012 budget order released on Feb. 13 and
compared it to what was estimated in September’s advertised budget.
The state will hand out $35,682,954, to Duneland’s general fund – the fund
which pays for staff salaries and programs -- more than $800,000 less than
what was originally projected in the advertised budget ($36,500,000).
Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer said the state’s new funding
formula collected by state sales tax has reduced the general fund by more
than $4.5 million.
Pruis said the tuition support distribution from the state based on the
average daily membership for this year will be $4,939 per student, a decline
from the $4,970 given for each student in 2011, $5,078 in 2010 and $5,228
seen in 2009.
Overall, the school corporation will see a $3.5 million difference between
the final figures and what was anticipated in all its funds with its total
budget of $58,797,754 compared to the appropriated budget of $62,304,939.
“This is where we are at this particular point in time. It is what it is,”
For this year in funds outside the general fund: Debt Service- $8,793,490;
School Pension Debt - $1,598,145; Capital Projects - $8,220,155;
Transportation - $3,815,690; Bus Replacement - $687,320. The state reports
the total levy to be $20,863,479.
The Capital Projects fund and the Bus Replacement fund, which are generated
by property taxes, saw reductions of $2.4 million and $300,000 respectively.
The tax rate for the school district failed once again to meet the levels
seen in 2008 when the state legislature initiated the tax rate caps
statewide. For 2012, the state budget order rendered a tax rate of .8632,
which is .0080 higher than last year but .60 less than the 2008 tax rate,
The district’s total Assessed Value is estimated at $2,416,992,465 this year
which is $4.6 million less than for 2011.
Pruis said the $205 million uncovered by the state this past week will not
impact Duneland Schools at all because that money is to be given as local
income tax money to counties, cities and towns.
Baer said “the real issue now” is to restore money to the general fund. The
board approved a referendum at their Feb. 13 meeting that, if passed, would
offset the shortfalls by restoring the $4.5 million in state cuts. Voters in
the May 8 referendum will be asked whether they approve a tax increase of 22
cents per $100 on their assessed property value.
The board gave unanimous approval for Baer to start discussions with staff
members who may be affected if the funding does not come through. Baer said
due to contractual obligations, employees are to be notified ahead of time
about potential layoffs.
As Baer mentioned previously, to live within the means of the state’s
appropriations, the school corporation would see its teaching staff reduced
by 20 positions, about 30 percent of clerical staff and in-school aides
would be terminated as would 35 percent of co-curricular staff.
“We’re concentrating to maintain our teaching staff and programs,” said
From the audience, resident Dan Vondrasek inquired if passing the referendum
would mean zero layoffs. Baer along with board member Mike Trout said they
could not give an absolute yes or no because adjustments may be necessary
depending on the number of students enrolled for the 2012-2013 school year,
but it is their “intent” to maintain current staff levels.
“If the 22 cents passes and everything else remains constant, there will be
no need to lay off anyone,” said Baer.
Vondrasek said he is in favor of the referendum but still had questions for
school officials on the reasons behind some of the staff cuts seen in recent
“It’s the best news we’ve gotten in years (from the state),” said Assistant
Superintendent Monte Moffett.
The Indiana General Assembly, which cut public education by more than $300
million in 2010, allocated more than $80 million in “re-discovered funds”
entirely to fund full-day kindergarten throughout the state.
Duneland has given parents the option of either sending their children to
half-day kindergarten or full-day kindergarten, but that will change next
year as full-day kindergarten will be the only option.
“This is something we are able to do because the state will fully fund it,”
Baer told the board.
All board members said yes to the measure and Duneland schools will now be
offering full-day kindergarten free of charge.
Moffett said about half of Duneland kindergartners are currently enrolled in
full-day kindergarten and he believes it to be the best option.
“As the amount of information is pushed down to the kindergarten level, it
is very important to go to full-day kindergarten,” he said.
Board member Ralph Ayres said the media have reported $80 million to be the
figure from the state, but he estimates the actual number is closer to $105
million for full-day kindergarten. According to the bill signed by Gov.
Mitch Daniels in March, schools will receive a grant of $2,400 per student
Baer said he hopes state lawmakers will make the effort to keep the funding
past next year. The state will be working on its new budget this year, said
Pre-enrollment figures for kindergarten will be tallied up next week and the
schools will determine if more teachers or resources are needed.
Meanwhile, Yost Elementary Principal Anne Stillman gave the board a
presentation on her school’s “Reading Buddies” program which gives students
a boost in their comprehension skills by having them read to stuffed animal
The program is supported with donations from Porter County United Way and
the Valparaiso University Softball Team.
Susan Harmison, who serves as guidance counselor for Yost and Jackson
elementary schools, explained ways she is teaching students how to deal with
stress and anxiety. She supplies the schools with “chill out bags”
containing “theraputty,” stress balls and calming illustrations.
Also on Monday, Moffett announced the retirements of Barbara Kimmel, who has
taught art at Chesterton High School for the past 12 years, and second-grade
teacher Susan Tonk, of Bailly Elementary School, who has been with Duneland
Schools for 24 years.
The board also gave the nod to a list of textbooks Moffett recommended for
the upcoming school year. Courses to receive new books are Family and
Consumer Sciences, Business, Industrial Technology and Visual Arts which
will utilize iPad technology.
The board will meet next May 7.