The Duneland Schools may end up with 100 or so fewer students than last
year, but could still come out ahead with the official count that determines
At a special school board meeting Monday, Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer
said that since the start of school last week --- when the first-day
enrollment count showed a drop of 213 students -- about 50 more students
have returned to school. More are expected now and after Labor Day, he said.
Baer said he still expects to see the final enrollment with a decrease of
about 100 students compared to last year. But the number that’s used to
determine state funding, known as the Average Daily Membership, could end up
higher than last year by about 50 students, he said. The ADM counts each
kindergarten student as one-half student, and the half-day kindergarten
program saw an increase in students while other grades, particularly at the
high school, also had increases.
A higher ADM figure would be good news for the otherwise austere Duneland
School Corporation budget.
The school board continued its review of the proposed budget Monday, holding
the required budget hearings on the Capital Projects Fund and Bus
Replacement Fund and granting permission to advertise the other school
The budget is virtually flatlined over the current year’s and reflects the
loss of 14 staff positions that were left unfilled after retirements or
resignations. With all funds considered, the total school budget comes to
$61.3 million, compared to the $65.5 million advertised at about this time
The largest school fund, the general fund, last year was approved at $39.6
million, but the state cut back the fund to $35.5 million. For next year,
Duneland is advertising a very nominal increase, putting the general fund at
$35.8 million. The general fund is now paid for by state revenues, not local
Baer said it’s hoped that the state won’t make any additional education cuts
for next year’s budget. While Duneland was able to adjust its general fund
this year without significantly impacting classrooms, Baer said if more
state funding cuts are required, the parameters now are much tighter and the
impact would be more severe.
Not only are no further state cuts projected, but also Gov. Mitch Daniels
has announced that the state will accept federal stimulus funds for
education, Baer said. The federal funding could result in about $1 million
for Duneland through 2012.
In addition to discussing the general fund, Baer outlined the other school
funds, which are supported by local property taxes. As always, the budget as
advertised includes higher than anticipated tax rates and lower than
anticipated assessed values. The budget reflects an AV of $2 billion, lower
than this year’s actual AV of $2.4 billion. Baer said he expects the final
AV to end up at about $2.5 billion, which would have the impact of lowering
the advertised tax rates while preserving the tax levy.
The Capital Projects Fund will be advertised at $10.6 million. Some of the
larger ticket items include $1.4 million for building improvements,
including roof work and a new maintenance facility; $1.6 million for rental
of equipment; $649,801 for utilities, an expense that had been paid out of
the general fund; and $436,723 in insurance, another expense that had been
paid out of the general fund.
The bus transportation fund totals $649,800 and includes the replacement of
eight vehicles. Baer said that planning the transportation fund has become
more challenging, now that the state is requiring a 12-year plan. With
92-square miles, Duneland buses cover much more area than many other school
systems and are more prone to damage during the northern Indiana weather
than school systems to the south.
The debt service fund for next year totals $8.9 million and includes the
debt payments for Chesterton High School, the new Liberty Elementary School
addition, and the state loan dating back to the Bethlehem Steel bankruptcy.
This fund also includes $17,438 in unreimbursed textbook rental fees. Baer
noted that Indiana remains one of the few states that do not provide school
books for students and that schools are allowed to levy local property taxes
to cover shortfalls in the book fees not paid for by families.
During the public hearing portion of the school budget discussion, only one
audience member commented: Maureen Hurst, a candidate for the at-large
school board seat in this year’s election. Hurst asked questions about the
original LES bond issue and its repayment schedule. The other candidates in
this particular race are incumbent Michael Trout and Kathleen Downey.
The school budget reviews will continue on Sept. 13.
Baer noted that the Duneland School Board has once again been designated as
an “exemplary” board by the Indiana School Board Association as part of its
Certification Awards Program for school boards.
In addition, board member John Marshall has received the master board member
designation, while Ron Stone has moved up to Level II in the CAP program.
The designations are based on the amount of continuing education that school
board members achieve.
Also Monday, the school board approved the contract with the Head Start
program to continue to use Westchester Intermediate School for the early
childhood education program. Baer noted that Duneland contracts with Head
Start only on a yearly basis, in case the school finds itself in need of the
four classrooms occupied by Head Start.
The board unanimously approved an extension of the program. “Great tenant,
great program,” said board member Nick Jurasevich.
matters, the school board approved the hiring of Nancy Lee as the 7th grade
Also hired were
will teach German at Chesterton High School. A 1987 CHS graduate, she
attended Indiana University and the University of Virginia. She has been
teaching for 12 years in Fairfax, Va.
McCreary will teach fourth grade at Jackson Elementary. A first-year teacher
and an IU graduate, McCreary was a Big Ten Academic All-Conference athlete
for six consecutive semesters and assisted the state championship track team
at Lawrence Central High School.
will teach kindergarten at Jackson and Bailly. An IU graduate, she worked at
Yost Elementary last year on a temporary contract.
will teach Spanish at Chesterton Middle School. A retired Valparaiso Spanish
teacher and former department head, she will teach four periods at CMS.
will be a guidance counselor at CMS. A graduate of Purdue Calumet and a
former Hammond officer, he most recently worked at East Chicago Central High
The school board
also accepted the resignations of Brighitte Snemis as a CMS Spanish teacher
and Kimberly Davis as a Duneland bus driver.
The board also
approved the following aides: Dawn Fauser, Michele Olson, Janet Thornton,
Julie Wright, Chelsea Wolanyk, Michelle Mercon, Mariann Chapman, DiAnn Dunn,
Janice Ferris, Margaret Faenza, Linda Ford, Kelly Randazzo, Tiffany Hawkins,
Tammy McEuen, and Kelly McBride as well as Keith Underwood as the 7th grade
boys basketball coach.
were the following bus drivers: Kelly Fancher, Amy Berdine, Chris Reno, and