Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Air conditioners, parking among Duneland School building needs

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By LILY REX

The Duneland School Board heard the preliminary results of a district-wide facilities assessment at its meeting yesterday.

The purpose of the study is to determine what major projects the Board should expect to budget for, other than general maintenance, in the coming years. Director of Support Services Greg Lindy said Tria Architecture has identified areas for improvement at Chesterton High School, Liberty Intermediate, Bailly Elementary, Yost Elementary, and the transportation center on Ind. 49.

At CHS, Heating, Ventiliation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) is the focus. Tria recommends replacing all three A/C chillers because they are near end of life and one is non-operational. Replacing them all at once is ideal, and the work would have to start soon for the units to be ready for next year’s hot weather. Lindy said the new system would be energy efficient, and NIPSCO often helps DSC with the cost of install and purchase for such systems.

At LIS, the vertical unit airflow and exhaust system could be improved, and there could be work done on window penetrations in the exterior walls, as well as lighting, flooring, and painting inside. Lindy said the issue with the vertical airflow unit is that the last time the system was replaced, the infrastructure for air flow wasn’t, and the two systems don’t work together for optimal flow.

Bailly’s front office needs to be reconfigured, and the nurse’s area made ADA-compliant, and the school needs HVAC improvements and new lighting, flooring, and painted walls in some rooms and halls. Yost needs a full replacement of its HVAC and chemical systems and new flooring and painting in some halls and classrooms. Lindy said there are big potential energy savings at Yost, since Yost is the last DSC building that is on a pneumatic control system.

Finally, the transportation depot needs more parking for bus drivers, and Tria recommends removing underground fuel tanks and replacing them with above-ground units. Lindy said parking has been an issue for a while, and it’s a matter of driver safety. As for the fuel tanks, Lindy said the underground tanks are very old, and he likes to be proactive about big, potentially inconvenient projects. He said its easier to diagnose problems with above ground tanks, the catch is DSC won’t know if the removal of the underground tanks requires soil remediation until the work starts.

In related business, the Board approved Duneland CFO Lynn Kwilasz to advertise the preliminary capital projects and bus replacements plans, 2020 budget, and tax rates and levies. That information will be available on the Department of Local Government Finance’s public access gateway online by Sept. 12. The Board will hold a public hearing on the budget at its Sept. 23 meeting and is expected to approve the 2020 budget and associated plans Oct. 7.

The goal of the facilities assessment is to facilitate master planning for needed improvements. Lindy said the main thing to keep in mind with the projects recommended by Tria is that the results are just preliminary so far. Prioritizing and pricing them will come later.

Other Approvals

The Board approved a resolution to acknowledge INPRS retirement savings. Kwilasz reported DSC saved approximately $348,900 following the Indiana General Assembly’s $150 million allocation to teacher retirement within the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS). The allocation made way for a two-percent reduction in public schools’ required contribution to INPRS, with the intent that schools can use the savings for general expenses, including teacher and certified staff salaries.

Kwilasz said the Legislature did not set limits on how schools spend the savings, but DSC intends to use it for salaries, so the $348,900 is part of the pool of money DSC has to work with as it budgets for 2020 and negotiates its new contract with the Duneland Teacher’s Association.

Kwilasz said the Legislature intends the reduction in schools’ contributions to be a permanent change, though the rate has historically changed at times as the INPRS Board gathers and reviews actuarial data.

In other business, the Board approved a round of policy updates on first reading. Board President Brandon Kroft said the changes in each of 13 policies were minor and amounted to updating a word or two here and there.

The Board approved a nickel increase in adult breakfast prices. The increase was necessary for DSC to qualify for state reimbursement. There will be no impact to students lunch or breakfast prices.

The Board also approved classified and administrative compensation guidelines and travel stipends. The guidelines and stipends are not changing from last year.

Comments

Board member Ron Stone gave a shout out to Custodian Marcie Brady, who recently gave his daughter money to get into a soccer game on a day that she forgot to bring money for a ticket. Stone said Brady has since been paid back, but he just thought it was “so awesome” that she ran to a student’s aid.

Duneland Superintendent Chip Pettit thanked the Duneland Chamber of Commerce for its support of the CHS Dunes Day field trip to the Dunes National Park next week. Pettit said the large field trip, an attempt to set a Guinness World Record, will have approximately 2,000 DSC students engaged in all types of learning activities.

 

 

Posted 9/12/2019

 
 
 
 

 

 

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