Duneland Assistant Superintendent Dave Pruis was less than enthusiastic
Thursday in starting talks with the school board about the 2013 budgets for
the Capital Projects Fund and Bus Replacement Funds.
Starting the summer tradition of drawing up the annual school budget, Pruis
gave a preliminary overview of what to expect for the two funds which are
primarily paid for by local property taxes, and it’s a lot of déjà vu, with
continued funding cuts from the state.
The CPF fund, which pays for professional services, building and land
acquisition, construction improvements, maintenance of equipment, emergency
allocations and other items, totals $10,378,124 in the 2013 budget,
approximately the same as that sought for 2012.
Pruis expects Duneland have just $8.2 million in the CPF in line with what
the state appropriated the fund last year.
Larger items in the CPF: $2 million for rental of buildings, facilities and
equipment; $1.6 million for building acquisition, construction and
improvements; $1.5 million for equipment maintenance; $1.4 million for
technology purchases; and just over $1 million for utilities and property
and casualty insurance.
Pruis reminded the board that these are just projections and the line items
will likely be tweaked by the state, then brought back to the school board
for final review later in the fall. Budget adoption is tentatively set for
Monday, Oct. 1.
“As always, we’ll construct a budget we can fund and we will be in the
black,” Pruis said.
Meanwhile, the Bus Replacement Fund calls for replacing five regular
66-passenger school busses this year and a 27 passenger mini bus. Pruis said
he also made an appropriation for a 48-passenger special education bus, at a
total cost of $631,000, but said he is doubtful the state will fully fund
the request, as was the case last year.
State legislation requires the Indiana Department of Local Government
Finance to set a maximum levy for the Bus Replacement Funds.
Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer repeated the comment that the schools must
now approve 12-year bus replacement funds, instead of the previous 10-year
plans. He said harsh winter weather has caused the buses to rust to the
point where they are inadequate and maintenance costs have continued to
Board President Janice Custer griped at the fact the state reported having a
$2 billion surplus this year when some of that money could have been used to
help schools which need it.
“If you don’t spend it on roads and schools, you’re going to have a lot of
extra money,” she said.
Adding to the grievances, Baer said the tax caps have stunted revenues to
the CPF and Bus Replacement Funds and the corporation will have to make do
with lower revenues.
Preliminary reviews for all 2013 budgets, including the General Fund, will
be made at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 13, followed the Budget
Review/Authorization to Advertise either Monday or Tuesday, Aug. 27-28 and a
public hearing on Monday, Sept. 10.
The 2013 General Fund will not yet be affected by the recent referendum
approving an increase of .22 cents per $100 of assessed value on property.
Those additional taxes will not be collected until next year.
In other business, the board approved renewal of the school’s property and
casualty insurance at a price of $666,975, which was a $40,000 hike over
last year, said Duneland Schools Business Manager Bonnie Gaston.
Gaston said the increase was due to a number of factors including an
excessive claim at one of the middle schools, but she is fairly confident
costs will decline next year.
In his last address to the board, Director of Support Services Mark McKibben
reported three summer roofing projects have stalled due to a roofer’s
That leaves in question whether the projects at Liberty Intermediate, Bailly
Elementary or Westchester Intermediate will be completed by the first day of
school on Aug. 22.
“Everything has come to a screeching halt,” said McKibben, who said the
recent wave of intense summer heat could also play a factor. Materials for
LIS were on site when the strike broke out just a few days after the
2011-2012 school year ended.
McKibben said he has been in communication with two contractors who are
quoting the jobs, but said labor issues like these can be costly to the
school and asked the board to consider creating a policy for what happens
when there are worker strikes.
“That’s not right for our students to come back to buildings that are not
ready for them,” he said.
Because of the heat, maintenance staff has not been as busy this year,
especially when it comes to mowing. McKibben said drought is “really
stressing” the turf.
Thursday marked McKibben’s last day as Director of Support Services. He will
be moving to Durango, Colo. to be closer to family. (see related story)
Ayres congratulated Custer and Baer for having recently been presented with
Paul Harris Fellowship Awards by the Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club.
This is Baer’s sixth time winning the award and marks the first for Custer.
Ayres too recognized 2010 CHS graduate Kyle Whitaker for “putting Duneland
on the map” competing in the Olympic Trials.
Whitaker placed 7th in the semi-finals two weeks ago swimming the 200-meter
individual medley in 2 minutes, 1.23 seconds. Taking first and second in the
event were Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. “He
(Whitaker) did very well,” Ayres summarized.
Whitaker now swims for the University of Michigan, but the networks
televising the event identified him as being from Chesterton, Ayres said.
The board did not address Thursday the results of this spring’s ISTEP test
scores, which were released earlier this week.
Duneland achieved higher than the state average for students passing the
Reading and Math portions but overall placed low in comparison with the
county’s six other school districts.
Baer told the Tribune the scores will be talked about during the
board’s Aug. 13 meeting.