Duneland School Superintendent Dirk Baer is in the beginning stages of
carrying out a pledge to form an advisory committee to give input on how to
best budget the estimated $5.6 million that will be generated by new
voter-approved school tax levy.
Baer said the formation of the committee was discussed earlier this year
when the tax referendum was in its early stages. The intent, he said, is to
give added oversight from a non-school “third party” to the annual
summertime school budget process. “It’s to try to get more transparency,” he
Baer said he is still working on the details of how exactly the committee
will function, but that he anticipates the committee will be made up of
three to five people who are not affiliated with the school system.
He said he would like committee members who have business acumen, and as
such anticipates representation from the Chesterton Duneland Chamber of
Commerce. He also said he would like to have committee members who
understand the school budgeting process.
Baer said he does not anticipate that the committee will hold its own set of
public meetings as the school board does, but instead will work directly
with the administration to review the budget details and give input.
He noted that the final budget decisions will be up to the school board as
always, and that the school board budget meetings are already open to the
Duneland School voters narrowly passed the school tax levy in the primary
elections last week, clearing the way for an additional tax rate of up to 22
cents for school operating funds. The rate is tentatively projected to raise
$5.6 million next year.
Baer noted that the 22-cent rate is the maximum only, and that depending on
the final net assessed value, a lower tax rate might be justified. On the
other hand, he said the funding generated might not be enough to prevent
additional school funding cuts, especially if state funding is further
Baer said he expects the committee will be formed over the summer and review
the budget information with him and other administrators, likely in July or
August before the school board holds its annual public hearing and adopts
Baer said individuals who are interested in serving on the committee may
contact his office.