Chesterton Tribune

Duneland School administrators and non-teaching staff go without raises again

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By VICKI URBANIK

For the second school year in a row, Duneland School administrators and non-teaching classified employees will get no raises.

The Duneland School Board began its annual budget review on Tuesday, first with a brief announcement that administrative contracts and pay for classified staff will remain as is. The last time raises were awarded was in the 2008-09 school year.

Last year, teachers were also not given raises except for the incremental pay hikes for those not already at the top end of the salary schedule.

The Duneland Schools continue to operate in a fiscally tight environment, prompted in part by budget cuts from the state level. The new “circuit breaker” tax caps that took full effect this year will also have an impact on Duneland’s revenues, though both Duneland Superinten-dent Dirk Baer and Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis said they do not yet know how much of a funding loss the school corporation will see.

The school board also held its first review of two of the school funds: The Capital Projects Fund and the Bus Replacement Fund. Both are funded through local property taxes; Duneland’s largest fund, the general fund, is now funded entirely through state revenues.

The CPF -- as it currently stands -- totals $10.6 million, which is about $780,345 less than the CPF that the school board adopted last year. School officials fully expect the final CPF to end up lower at the end of the budget process, in part because $1.6 million falls under a tax-neutrality measure and will be used toward the school corporation’s pension bond. The final CPF for 2010 ended up at just over $8 million, and Pruis projected a similar drop for 2011 as well.

The CPF pays for technology, building improvements and equipment.

One highlight in the CPF is a new maintenance storage facility, estimated to cost $750,000. Baer said Duneland is currently storing some equipment outdoors and is in need of more storage space. Pruis said Duneland may have some land acquisition opportunities near the Special Services Facility, though the exact location of the new building has not yet been determined. Baer said the project is still in its preliminary stage and that details, such as the size of the building, have not yet been prepared.

Some of the categories, and the totals proposed in the CPF, are as follows: Building improvements, $2.1 million; equipment rental, $1.6 million; emergency funds, $1.7 million; equipment maintenance, $1.3 million; technology, including tech staff, $860,885; professional services, $245,000; guaranteed energy savings program, $350,000; equipment purchases, $823,840; and insurance, $436,723.

The school board also reviewed the bus replacement fund, which calls for replacing five school buses and three special purpose buses, totaling $649,800.

Duneland Transportation Director James Bonfield noted that the state requires schools to have a 12-year bus replacement plan. While a 12-year schedule may work for much of the state, he said the wear and tear on school buses due to the harsh winters in northern Indiana require a more aggressive replacement plan.

In some buses, pieces of the bus frames have been welded in place due to the rust and corrosion. For the safety of the kids, Bonfield said it would be more practical to replace the buses rather than continually repair the damaged areas.

He also noted that Duneland covers one of the largest geographic areas in Indiana at 92 square miles. The Valparaiso and Portage schools, by contrast, each transport kids over an area of around 30 square miles, he said.

The three special purpose buses will replace three of the original ones purchased. Bonfield said these mini buses are in constant use and are increasingly used for longer distance trips, such as for Speech and Debate competitions across the country.

Both the CPF and the bus replacement funds will be reviewed again as the budget process continues. The school board approved the following budget meeting schedule: Review of the CPF and bus replacement and preliminary budget review of all other funds, August 3; public hearing for CPF and bus replacement plans and budget review, August 30; budget publication dates, Sept. 1 and 8; adoption of CPF and bus replacement funds and public hearing on other funds, Sept. 13; and final budget adoption, Oct. 4.

ISTEP Notes

Also Tuesday, Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett said school officials were “very pleased” with the latest ISTEP test results, which showed improvements in student test scores in most grades and most subjects and which showed that Duneland students tested above state average at all levels.

“It’s always good to see improvement,” Moffett said, commending parents, students and staff for the favorable results.

Noting that some of the math scores in particular soared, Moffett said Duneland has been carefully watching the math scores ever since it adopted new math books a few years ago. Test scores across the district have been increasing in math; Moffett said he’d like to think that the improvements are due to a combination of better curriculum and student comprehension.

Personnel

In personnel matters, the school board approved the following hirings.

Dan Kinsey will teach math at Chesterton High School. He received his bachelor’s in math education from Purdue University. He has taught Algebra 1 and 2 and geometry for one year at Kokomo High School.

William Caulton will teach freshman English and oversee the yearbook at CHS. A Ball State graduate, Caulton comes to Duneland from Lawrence Central High School, where he student taught and served as a tutoring center coordinator.

Kent Butler was appointed to coach boys varsity golf at CHS.

Bill Biehl was hired as the boys junior varsity soccer coach at CHS.

Rick Garvey was appointed to an unpaid position as boys assistant soccer coach at CHS.

Also, the board accepted the resignation of Rebecca Hoyle as English teacher and yearbook coordinator at CHS.

 

 

Posted 7/14/2010