Chesterton Tribune



Duneland Schools budget $64.4 million; enrollment decline cuts $200K

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The Duneland School Board unanimously accepted the recommendation of School Superintendent Dave Pruis and Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz to adopt the 2014 corporation budgets as presented and advertised at a final figure of $64,397,556.

That is $872,000 higher than the 2013 adopted budget but Pruis and Kwilas said they expect the state to set the budget at almost the same figure as last year.

Budgets are due to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance by Nov. 1. The DLGF will next review and certify the levies and the budgets which will be ordered early next year.

As required by statute, the board at its budget adoption meeting Monday, approved resolutions to adopt the 2014-2016 capital projects fund and the 12-year bus replacement plan. Both are levy-capped funds and were given a public hearing on Sept. 28.

The capital projects fund has been advertised at $10.5 million and Pruis said the state will likely reduce the amount to $9 million as it did for 2013.

The board authorized Pruis or Kwilas to reduce appropriations for any of the funds during the DLGF’s budget review.

There was a fourth resolution to authorize neutralization regarding retirement/severance pay debt obligations to be made from both the capital projects fund and the transportation operations fund. The school pension debt is $1.6 million this year and half will be neutralized according to a resolution approved last year to adjust the neutralization in phases of 25 percent each year over four years.

Seventy percent of the neutralization will be made out of the transportation fund while the remaining 30 percent will come from the CPF fund.

The General Fund, which is controlled by the state and is funded by state sales tax, was advertised at $34.575 million and approved at that amount. Kwilas said she expects it will be reduced by the DLGF. The 2013 budgets for the General Fund had been advertised at $34.4 million.

Pruis reminded the board that figures proposed are “inflated” in order to capture the maximum levy.

Kwilasz said the overall tax rate proposed in the advertised budget is $1.3570. That includes a $.3534 rate from the Debt Service Fund, a $.4590 rate in the Capital Projects Fund, and $.2435 for the referendum fund.

By her best estimates, Kwilasz said the state is likely to lower the tax rates to a total of $1.0924. For 2013, the tax rate was set at $1.0984. That is based on a net assessed value amount of $2 billion, although the actual net AV was reported by the county auditor’s office at $2.391 billion for the Duneland School Corporation.

Pruis said the net AV for 2013 pay 2014 dropped by half a percent compared to last year, almost $14.7 million.

“It’s a continuous trend since 2008,” said Pruis.

Hospital assessment

On the subject of net AV, board member Kristin Kroeger inquired if the $2.391 billion included the assessment of Porter Regional Hospital located at the Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 intersection in the Liberty Twp.

Board member Ralph Ayres said it was reported in the media that the hospital assessment should be coming later this week.

County Assessor Jon Snyder told the Chesterton Tribune after the meeting that he expects to complete the assessment by the end of the week.

Student count slips slightly

While a boost in AV could be good news for the schools, Pruis said the new enrollment figures for the average daily membership are down by more than 40 students this year, just as he predicted at the board’s previous meeting.

The September ADM figure was 5,722.4 students compared to 5,765.62 students in 2012, a decrease of 43 students. Through the state’s funding formula, Pruis said Duneland will see a loss of nearly $200,000 in tuition support.

Pruis mentioned however there was growth seen in the kindergarten classes and in other areas.

“We were up at the high school and in the middle school, but were down those grades one through six,” Pruis said.

Pruis said the number is “not as far down as we first thought.” He said the administration thought they were down about 60 students and the reduction is not as significant as it may have been.

“We’re in okay shape,” he said.

Taking a view of how other schools fared, Pruis and Kwilasz said that growth has been flat around the state, with many seeing nearly identical results as Duneland.

“There are many folks out there similar to us, some without any growth,” Pruis said.

Pruis said schools that have reported higher attendance figures tend to be those in the central part of the state.

Also in his report, Pruis lauded the CHS girls soccer team for winning the Duneland Athletic Conference championship. He also gave kudos to the CHS girls golf team for competing in the IHSAA state finals over the weekend.

Rain garden at Brummitt

Meanwhile, Brummitt Elementary principal Antonio Cammarata made a presentation to the board with students in the third grade classes about partnering with the Save the Dunes organization to build a new, bowl-shaped rain garden adjacent to the school’s east parking lot.

The students explained the benefits of having a rain garden such as protecting the environment, managing runoff, and improving the quality of life for residents.

Cammarata said the school is located within the Little Calumet-Galien watershed. The east arm of the Little Calumet River runs right behind the school, he said.

This is the second year the school is collaborating with Save the Dunes and will continue programs such as “Fred the Fish” for younger students helping them understand the effects pollutants have on waterways, Cammarata said.

Personnel Report

Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Human Relations Monte Moffett gave the personnel report to the board.

One appointment was made since the board met last - Dawn Trowbridge, who will be a recess aide at Liberty Intermediate.

Resigning are Yost Elementary Instructional Aide Alesia Bewick and Liberty Elementary recess aide Janet King.

Taking a leave from June 13, 2013, to June 13, 2014, is James Romanak of Duneland’s Maintenance Department.

Next meeting

The school board is scheduled to meet next on Monday, Nov. 4.



Posted 10/8/2013





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