The Duneland School Corporation’s first-day enrollment figures show a drop
of 213 students, a decline that Superintendent Dirk Baer attributed largely
to the new Discovery Charter School.
The first-day head count showed that 5,871 students attended Duneland on the
first day Wednesday, down from 6,084 in 2009.
Baer said he believes that at least a good portion of that decline in
enrollment is due to the new charter school, which opened on Monday with a
full enrollment of 312 in grades kindergarten through six. While some of the
higher grades at Duneland also saw enrollment declines, the most significant
are in the lower grades.
Baer noted that the charter school offers full-day kindergarten at no
charge, which Duneland does not. Among individual grades, Duneland’s
full-day kindergarten enrollment took the largest dive this year, dropping
from 257 students last year to 159. Duneland’s half-day program, on the
other hand, increased by 30 students.
Other large decreases are seen in second grade, with a drop of 63 students;
third grade, with a drop of 76 students; and 11th grade, a drop of 74
In addition to the half-day kindergarten increases, other grades with
increases in enrollment include fourth grade, an increase of 14; seventh
grade, an increase of 17 students; ninth grade, an increase of 26 students;
and 10th grade, an increase of 16 students.
A look at the enrollments at each building shows that the count is down in
each one, except Westchester Intermediate, with an overall increase of 13.
Because state tuition funding is directly tied to enrollment, Baer said
Duneland will see a drop in funding as a result. “It’s going to cost us,” he
Exactly how much Duneland will lose in state funding won’t be known until
after the official enrollment count is taken in September. Known as the
Average Daily Membership, the official count considers each kindergarten
student as one-half, since the state only funds a half-day program.
Duneland gets approximately $5,000 in state funding per student. So if the
official count shows a drop of 150 students, for example, Duneland would
lose roughly $750,000. “That’s funding we won’t have that we have had
previously,” Baer said.
This year, Duneland had 31 retirements among teachers and administrators and
replaced only 17. Baer said until the registration numbers came in, Duneland
couldn’t finalize some of its hiring decisions because of uncertainties over
He rejected the argument that if there are fewer students, Duneland needs
proportionately fewer teachers. Such an oversimplification would apply if
Duneland had just one building, he said, but not with multiple schools. He
gave the example of a second grade at one school that lost a number of
students, ending up with 22, while the second grade enrollment at another
school stayed the same at 27; in order to equalize the class sizes, students
would have to be bused to another school. Otherwise, a teacher is still
needed for the second grade class with 22 students, as well as the one with
27, he said.
Overall, the first day of school went well at Duneland, Baer said. There
were the customary glitches involving transportation, such as students
getting on the wrong bus. Further, a mouse apparently chewed the fiber line
serving the Liberty Schools and Jackson Elementary, disrupting phone service
throughout the morning, causing more than the normal first-day chaos.
But Baer also noted that in stark contrast to last year, a tornado didn’t
hit Chesterton this year, ripping off the middle school gym and causing
assorted other building woes.
“It was a great first day,” Baer said.
The following are the first-day enrollment counts, first by grade level then
by individual schools. Last year’s figures appear first. The numbers include
students who are in special education who are attending school at Duneland.
Kindergarten, half-day: 161; 191
Kindergarten, full-day: 257; 159
1: 412; 415
2: 454; 391
3: 499; 423
4: 466; 480
5: 454; 459
6: 455; 457
7: 459; 476
8: 495; 474
9: 503; 529
10: 467; 483
11: 509; 435
12: 493; 499
Bailly: 490; 461
Brummit: 395; 336
Jackson: 388; 345
Liberty: 528; 511
Yost: 448; 406
Liberty Intermediate: 341; 335
Westchester Intermediate: 568; 581
Chesterton Middle: 954; 950
Chesterton High: 1,972; 1,946