Chesterton Tribune



CHS Building Trades class to build manufactured home next to soccer field

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The Chesterton High School Building Trades program’s next project will be building an outside classroom and a manufactured home without having to leave school property.

Explaining a three-year master plan to the Duneland School Board at its meeting Monday, program instructor Tom Garzella told the school board the Trades Program committee was looking for ways to lower costs and man-hours for transporting students and materials to a job site.

“The model that came out of that is to build a manufactured home,” Garzella said. “When we are looking at a program on the overall costs, everything that has to go along with construction, this model seemed to fit what we could do long-term.”

The Duneland Group land surveying company would partner to do the state permitting for the manufactured home and the self-certification. Housing Opportunities, of Valparaiso, would be the buyer and provide capital funds for the project.

Based on feedback from suppliers, the total construction cost would be about $44,000, Garzella said.

A site location for the two halves would be a small portion of the CHS practice soccer field, and function as a temporary outdoor classroom. A Conex container would sit there as well. Garzella said he would like to screen the fencing and gates.

The houses would eventually be moved to a location in Michigan City with the first one to be done in a year, Garzella said.

The program is expanding with thirteen students currently and over 40 signed up for next school year, he said.

“The excitement’s back. We’re trying to do the right thing. Trying to create a right environment so the students can learn,” Garzella said.

Board member Ron Stone said if the home is built on school property, it will likely get more kids interested in wanting to be in the class the following school year.

Board member John Marshall commented that the building trades program “is really exciting” and the board has wanted to see it expand.

Marshall asked Garzella if any parking spaces would be lost at CHS. Garzella said none during the school year andhe has been in communication with the department heads so they know the plans.

Director of Support Services Greg Lindy said the site for the home would be out of the way and would cause the least conflict.

“It will be a construction site. We will try to keep it neat but it will be a construction site,” Lindy said.

Trades Program advisory board members present were President Paul Shinn, Secretary Bonnie Gaston, Kent Mishler and John Jandura, as well as Porter County Career and Technical Center Director Jon Groth. Other members include Vice-President Greg Babcock and Kevin Comerford.

Garzella said the board is looking forward to updating its current curriculum standards for the next school year, working with Ivy Tech. Another goal is to get those who have been in the program as seniors to build partnerships and find work with local contractors and sub-contractors while getting school credit.

CMS Pool

A public hearing was held by the board on a $695,000 appropriation of rainy day funds to be used for building and improvements. The amount, as explained by Duneland Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz, is a one-time expenditure to keep the Chesterton Middle School pool maintained in a safe environment.

No one from the public spoke and the board approved the resolution to appropriate with a 5-0 vote.

Updates will include reconfiguring the air-handling system for the pool area as well as improvements to the locker rooms, lighting, wall paint and ceiling.

The board last month approved a base bid from Chicago Heights Construction Company to work strictly on the pool area. The rest of the work, which will also be paid from the $695,000 appropriation, will be done by staff in-house, said Lindy.

Instructional fees

In other business, the School Board approved 5-0 the proposed instructional fees for the upcoming school year, submitted by Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz.

The fees, which are charged at registration, go to pay for student handbooks, arts and craft supplies for elementary. The instructional fees per elementary are $27.50.

At the intermediate schools, the fees will cover course materials. The fees there will be $27.22.

The fees at the middle school and high school will vary depending on what courses the student takes.

Goetz said there are no significant changes in the proposed fees compared to this year.


Changes and updates to the student handbooks were also approved 5-0 by the board. One comment made was by Board President Kristin Kroeger who said she disagrees with having a policy that personal communication devices -- e.g. cell phones, tablets -- be turned off on school buses while they are traveling to and from school since it’s difficult for school bus drivers to monitor it.

“It’s the enforceability of it. Why have a policy that you can’t enforce and you are not enforcing?” she said.

Lindy said that if a bus driver sees a student using such a device, they are asked to put them away.


Posted 5/2/2017





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