Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer won’t have to reach far when he
passes the torch on July 1.
At the close of Thursday night’s Duneland School Board meeting, the board
made the surprise move of voting unanimously to offer current Assistant
Superintendent of Operations Dave Pruis the chance to be Baer’s successor.
Pruis humbly accepted the offer saying he was “most appreciative of the
“I look forward to working with a staff of wonderful people,” he told the
Tribune after the meeting.
Board President Mike Trout said the decision to hire Pruis came forward in
the board’s discussions with Indiana School Boards Association Director of
Services Mike Adamson and Indiana State University education leadership
associate professor Bob Boyd who guided the board in starting its search.
The candidate they said should be someone who will have a “respectful and
healthy” relationship with the board members. And then, as Trout put it, “a
light bulb went off.”
“A name came up we all respected. It was Dr. Pruis,” Trout said, which was
met with applause from Duneland staff and administrators sitting in the
Trout said that the school board wished to see “a seamless transition” and
felt its choice of Pruis accomplished that.
Board member Kristin Kroeger said the board wanted to find a successor “with
the same heart that (Baer) has” who would be helpful to the Duneland staff.
She said she discussed with building administrators around DSC what
qualities they would like to see in a superintendent and Pruis’ name “always
“It became very clear that someone with that heart was right here in the
school district,” she said.
Fellow board member Ralph Ayers also noted Pruis’ expertise with the school
budgets which was also an attribute of Baer’s the board wanted to continue.
He said Pruis’ reputation is well-respected not only locally but throughout
“He is also one of the few people who fully understand the (State’s) student
funding formula,” said Ayres.
Pruis’ firsthand experience and knowledge of the school budgets will be
important in the school corporation’s future, said Board member John
Marshall, as two key personnel who have dealt with Duneland’s finances a
long time are retiring-- Baer and DSC Business Manager Bonnie Gaston.
Marshall said Duneland is currently at a “very critical time” when it comes
to funding, as the state has continually sought to shrink the budget, and he
believes Pruis to be the best person to lead.
Trout told the Tribune that Pruis did not asked to be considered as
it was the board who first approached him with the offer.
The board forwent opening the position up to applicants and is not required
by law or school board protocol to take applications, Trout said.
Details about Pruis’ contract, including a yearly salary figure, will be
discussed publicly by the board at an upcoming meeting, Trout added. The
current superintendent salary for Duneland is $128,000.
Baer in his comments to the board expressed his approval for his
“You’ve done good,” he said with a laugh.
Pruis and Baer had worked together as administrators at Oregon-Davis High
School before either of them came to Duneland.
Prior to joining Duneland as assistant superintendent in 2003, Pruis
finished four years as superintendent of Hamilton Community Schools north of
Indianapolis and seven years as superintendent at Union-North United School
Corporation in Lakeville before that.
Baer announced in January that he would be retiring on June 30 after his
26th year at Duneland, including six years as principal at Chesterton High
As for who will be the next assistant superintendent of operations, Trout
said Pruis has free range to pick who his team member will be and then make
a recommendation to the school board for hire.