Budget cuts proposed in Congress this spring for the national Head Start
program didnít materialize, and as a result the local early childhood
education program at Westchester Intermediate School is financially solvent
In his annual report to the Duneland School Board, local Head Start
coordinator Ray Gartner said the Head Start program has enjoyed another
successful year at WIS, operating at full capacity with a waiting list and
exceeding federal goals for parental involvement.
Head Start primarily serves low-income families in preparing their pre-schoolers
for kindergarten and assisting the families on matters such as budget
management and nutrition. Head Start began at WIS 10 years ago, moving from
a South Haven site. The Duneland children had to be bussed there due to the
lack of a more local site.
The local Head Start program is budgeted to serve 20 students, and in its
10-year existence, has served more than 200 families. In keeping with
federal requirements, special needs students must make up at least 10
percent of the overall enrollment. At WIS, the percentage has sometimes
exceeded 25 percent, Gartner said.
Gartner said the WIS Head Start program has always enjoyed a strong parental
connection, with an emphasis on helping parents in their role as their
childís primary teacher. He did note that with the high cost of gas, it can
be difficult for parents to get their children to and from the WIS site,
which is a good five miles or more away for some families.
Gartner also thanked the community for the support shown for the program. In
addition to the Duneland Schools, the Duneland Resale Shop, Duneland YMCA
and Chesterton Lions Club have all partnered with Head Start. The Lions
Club, for example, has conducted vision screenings of the children.
Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer in turn commended the Head Start site for
preparing children for their school years. ďItís valuable work, and we
appreciate it,Ē he said.
In another presentation Tuesday, members of Dunelandís High Ability program
outlined the curriculum and some of the projets done by the elementary
Christy Jarka, Liberty Elementary principal who also serves as the
elementary High Ability coordinator, said 13 percent overall of the K-4
students were in the high ability program this year. The breakdown is:
Kindergarten, 7 percent; first grade, 9 percent; second grade, 15 percent;
third grade, 17 percent; and fourth grade, 15 percent.
The students are those who demonstrate exceptional academic and leadership
skills. Students can be nominated by parents or by teachers.
While the higher grades have separate classes for the high-ability students,
the elementary students are pulled out of their regular classrooms to work
with the high-ability instructors.
Several of the high-ability projects were outlined Tuesday. Kelly McBride,
the high-ability instructor at Jackson and Liberty, and her student Emily
Richardson demonstrated a tile project that challenges the students in math
concepts. In one example given, Richardson had to complete a series of math
problems, using all the numbered tiles once.
Tammy McEuen, the instructor at Brummitt and Yost, and her student Alexandra
Dines, gave a presentation on a research project in which the students
selected a state park to research. Dines displayed the brochure she created
about Shakamak State Park.
Instructor Cheryl Alvarez and her student, Joshua Sweet, outlined the 100
word project, in which each letter of the alphabet is numbered and the
students having to come up with as many words as possible that total 100.
Sweet also gave a presentation on a report he prepared on Galileo.
The school board unanimously approved an additional appropriation of
$800,000 out of the Duneland Schoolís Rainy Day Fund toward the artificial
turf field at Chesterton High School.
The total cost of the turf has been projected at $800,000, but with part of
the costs defrayed by the non-profit group Friends of Duneland Youth. Baer
said rather than go through the appropriation process again, he asked the
school board to approve the maximum amount, with the anticipation that not
all of the funds will be used.
The Friends last month announced that they had $110,000 committed so far,
and on Tuesday, Keith Davidson of the Friends presented a check for that
amount to the school board. Fundraising for the turf field will continue,
Davidson said, and the Friends would like any excess raised to go toward
Also Tuesday, the school board set next school yearís textbook rental fees.
The total fees, with the increase shown in parentheses, are: Kindergarten,
$118 ($18 increase); first grade, $152 ($2); second grade, $142 ($5); third
grade, $133 ($10); fourth grade, $131 ($8); fifth grade, $138 ($14); and
sixth grade, $141 ($15). Fees for the higher grades vary based on the
Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett commended the teachers who
assisted in selecting books, with new textbook adoptions in math, science
and health. Teachers worked diligently to select high-quality books while
being mindful of the costs to families, Moffett said.
In personnel matters, the school board approved the hiring of two new
Ashley Gordeneer will teach science at Chesterton Middle School. She holds a
bachelorís from Central Michigan University in science education and has
taught one year at Webberville Community Schools in Michigan.
Alicia Charlson will teach Spanish at CMS. A graduate of Indiana University
Northwest, she completed her student teaching at Hobart High School and is
currently filling in for a child care leave at CHS.
The board also approved a child care leave for the 2011-12 school year for
Liberty Elementary first grade teacher Emily Mateer-Bolin.
In addition, the board approved the following summer school staff members:
In drivers education, Paul Blosser, Al Eggers, Don Graham, Marty Isaac, Greg
Kearney, and Hank Matthys; at CMS, teachers Rob Yong and Anne Stark,
secretary Donna Havner, and aide Nikki Stephenson.