The total advertised budget for Duneland Schools next year is $63,525,458
but school officials are not exactly sure what they’ll get when the state
comes back with the certified 2013 budget at the start of next year.
Monday, the Duneland School Board invited the public to speak out during a
hearing on the new proposed budget. It had been advertised twice as a legal
notice in the Chesterton Tribune – on Aug. 31 and again on Sept. 5.
Last year at this time, Duneland’s advertised 2012 budget was $62.3 million,
but reductions made by the state in the General Fund and even more in the
Capital Projects Fund brought the final amount to $58.8 million.
Duneland Assistant Superinten-dent Dave Pruis said he expects the Capital
Projects Fund, which is one of the schools funds vulnerable to the state
property tax caps, to be depleted from its advertised amount of $10.4
million. The heftier of its line items are the Building, Acquisition,
Construction, and Improvement budget with $2.4 million, for reroofing
projects and $2 million for Rent of Buildings, Facilities and Equipment
budget for rental of vocational classrooms.
“We know that will be reduced when it comes back,” Pruis said.
The schools’ Transportation Fund certification is also likely to fall short
of its advertised budget. It’s advertised for $3.8 million which is more
than last year given the jumps in the price of fuel.
The school corporation does expect to have enough in its bus replacement
fund, $650,089, to purchase six regular buses next year and a smaller
special education bus.
Transportation Director Jim Bonfield said the cost of fuel is not a pressing
matter to the schools as much as the problem of corrosion and rust on the
buses and specifically their fuel tanks. He said he has had to replace four
fuel tanks that had “rusted off.” The problem is common throughout most of
The new referendum fund will offset the likely decline in next year’s
General Fund budget, which is advertised as $34.4 million or $2 million less
than 2012. If the full 22 cents of the referendum is used (per $100 of
assessed value), the schools would gain $4,782,000 based on a total AV of
$2.4 billion in the school corporation.
Board member Ralph Ayres said the public should note that the money is not
available to the schools until next summer and cannot be used for the
current academic year.
The referendum money, Pruis said, will allow Duneland to keep approximately
25 staff positions in the areas of art, music, physical education and media.
It will also cover shortfalls in the insurance costs for employees. Pruis
said the rates for PERF this year have climbed to 13 percent.
No matter what amount is levied, school officials said they will see to it
no expenditures will go above the levy and create more debt.
“What we will not do is spend all of our appropriations,” said Duneland
Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer.
“There is no reason to take on any more debt,” agreed board vice-president
Michael Trout said.
Baer said ideally the school corporation would like to keep eight to ten
percent of its funds in cash balance on a regular basis.
During the public hearing, the only questions and comments came from
residents running for school board in this year’s general election.
Kristin Kroeger, a candidate for the Jackson Twp. board seat, and John
Marshall, one of the four candidates for the at-large seat, inquired as to
how the school tax rate will be affected.
Pruis said a few cents will be shaved off the tax rate as the school pays
off its debts and pension debt over the next few years. The school is
expected to use all 22 cents from the referendum this year but will likely
use less of it when the debts are paid off.
Another hopeful for the at-large seat, Dan Vondrasek, Sr. asked if the
budgets would be available in the meeting minutes. Baer answered that the
budget has been advertised in the Chesterton Tribune and anyone
wanting a copy of the full budget can contact the administration office.
Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton was appointed hearing officer and
examiner for the night.
With the completion of thge public hearing, all that’s left is the board’s
adoption of the budget scheduled for Monday, Oct. 1.
During the meeting, a presentation was made by a trio of CHS seniors from
International Baccalaureate classes on the subject of Chesterton gaining a
sister city from overseas.
Just as they shared their findings with the Chesterton Town Council in July,
Elizabeth Benson, Hannah Van Drie and Michaela Sosby touted how city
sisterhood often boosts the quality of life for the towns involved by
improving the cultural, education and economic aspects which include trade
Giving an example, the students said the city of San Antonio, Tex., has a
robust economic relationship with its sister city of Kumamoto City, Japan,
with “huge profits” by trade and investment from its Sony stores.
Sosby said a common added benefit for sister cities is to have unique travel
abroad programs and form a cooperative effort in having students to study
abroad and gain a broader cultural understanding. The partnered cities or
towns can together find ways to fundraise for their students to travel.
In order to fulfill a city sisterhood, a committee would need to be created
with members of the IB class, the Chesterton Town Council, the Chesterton
Rotary as well as members of the Chesterton Merchants Association. From that
point, the next step would be to become a member in the Sister Cities
International organization to be paired with a similar city.
Board member Ralph Ayres said it could be possible to include not only
Chesterton, but the other two towns in the Duneland community – Burns Harbor
and Porter – going from a population of about 10,000 to 25,000.
The town council voted 4-0 to take the matter under advisement. Ton said he
was impressed with the presentation and the research put into the proposal.
“They did an excellent job,” he said.
CHS Assistant Principal Jeff Van Drie said the IB class has been in
existence for five years and the interaction with the community has been
“very beneficial.” The students in the program participate in internship
opportunities for their career development.
CHS junior Jami Ritchea will join Duneland’s AIDS Advisory Committee for the
2012-2013 school year.
Ritchea will replace one of the students who graduated last year. A senior,
Eric Dreischerf, will continue to be a member for this year.
All other members will remain on the committee. They are: school health
professional physician Dr. John Forchetti, Assistant Superintendent Monte
Moffett; parents Darlene Malone and Danielle O’Reilly; Brummitt teacher Pam
Moore; CMS teacher Jane Schlichting; CHS assistant principal Jeff Van Drie;
CHS health teacher Nancy Furcsk; Porter County Health Department employee
Karen Lain and retired health professional Phoebe Jane House.
The committee, which was created decades ago under state statute, reviews
health education curriculum that talks about AIDS and other communicable
Other appointments the school corporation has made include Diane Schmiegel
as a new Rt1 Aide for Westchester Intermediate.
Liberty Elementary will see two new faces. Kristen Cunningham who will be an
Instructional Aide and Deirdre Comfort has been appointed as a Title 1 Aide.