Chesterton Tribune



Duneland officials say quirks in registration a one time problem

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The Duneland Schools’ transition to a new online registration system has created a mix of bliss and frustration for parents signing up their children, but school officials at Monday’s school board meeting said confidently that next year’s registration will be less headache-inducing.

Schools Superintendent Dave Pruis spoke of the ups and downs seen over the past week during elementary and intermediate student registrations caused by computer snafus moving from the RDS system to a new format with Skyward Family and Student Access.

But registration in general has proceeded, Pruis said, though there have been stalls and waits in line. The Chesterton Tribune heard anecdotal reports last week of parents not being able to change incorrect information or enter updated information on the new system because of glitches.

“It’s a new experience. It’s been positive for some and less than that for many others,” said Pruis, who added it’s been a “busy 6 or 7 days” for the administration and staff with enrollments.

Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Jim Goetz said workers are determining the reasons for the glitches and how they can be handled. Once the new information is updated into the Skyward system, next year’s registration will run much smoother.

“We’re finding the quirks. Some things came up that we didn’t expect and that caused lines at different times, but God bless our parents and staff for working through it and getting it done,” said Goetz. “Next year is going to be much easier and much quicker. We know the things that went wrong this year and we’ll fix those.”

Monday was also the day to register for seventh-graders, freshman and sophomores. Tuesday is for eighth-graders, juniors and seniors. Open CHS registration is Wednesday from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.

2014 budgeting begins

Meanwhile, the board began reviewing the progress of the 2014 budget with Pruis and Duneland’s new chief financial officer Lynn Kwilasz.

Kwilasz said the figures they have now are preliminary and she expects to have more accurate numbers at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 26, but DSC is already predicting some reductions in its capped capital projects fund budget and its debt services funds and pension bond fund which are uncapped funds based on a repayment schedule.

Pruis said from early estimates the capital projects fund, which is used for matters regarding building improvements, site development, professional services, will be $190,000 less than last year’s figure of $10.4 million. The fund is supported by local property tax dollars as are the schools’ transportation, bus replacement, and debt services while the school’s general fund, the lion’s share of the overall budget, is funded by the state.

Due to decreases in assessed property taxes from the circuit breaker tax caps, those funds have been declining. The debt service funds and pension debt funds are proposed at 1 percent less than last year, being tentatively advertised at $7.4 million and $1.6 million respectively.

Meanwhile, the transportation operating fund will increase its maximum levy with the state’s growth quotient of 2.6 percent. The schools will levy for the full amount, Kwilasz said.

The state-capped Bus Replacement Fund will be advertised for maximum levy of roughly $670,000. Pruis said Duneland hopes to purchase six new buses in 2014, three of which will be new 66-passenger conventional buses while some will be 48-passenger special education buses.

As for the General Fund, Pruis said the Indiana General Assembly has decided that it will fund schools on a fiscal year basis rather than a calendar basis and, starting with the 2014 school funding formula, the state will now make two counts for average daily membership, one in September and one in February. The former will be used for figuring July-September state tuition support while the latter will do the same January-June calculations. The state required schools to submit an estimated ADM count in June for fiscal year 2014 tuition support which will be used until the September count is taken.

Pruis said he expects the September count to be higher than the February count but not knowing what the count will be makes it difficult for school officials to budget for the January through June period.

“The number of students in our seats affects our funding immediately,” said Pruis.

Kindergarten enrollments for this year were higher than what school officials had predicted so that will generate more funding, Pruis said. “That’s good news that we won’t be losing significant amounts of money.”

Kwilasz said that insurance and program costs supported by the General Fund will increase this year.

As for the referendum fund which was created last year, Kwilasz recommended using the full 22 cents per $100 of assessed value, just as was done for 2013. The referendum fund levy is collected from property taxpayers living in the school corporation and is used for items in the general fund.

A public hearing for the 2014 school budget is scheduled to be held by the school board on Wednesday, Sept. 25.

In other budget matters, the board voted to authorize advertising the DSC financial report from 2012. The report appears in today’s Chesterton Tribune as a legal notice.

New faces

In other business, the board welcomed new staff who will be joining Duneland.

Joshua Huwig has been appointed as the new assistant principal at CHS and will succeed Craig Stafford, who resigned to take a principal position at Bishop-Noll in Hammond. Huwig recently worked at Lake Central Schools as an English teacher and as Dean of Students.

Amy Buckman will teach Spanish at CHS.

Art teacher Jody Nix is returning to teaching at CHS, having taught in the Duneland Schools previously.

Jill Smoker will also teach art at CHS.

Emily Frikken, an Albion College graduate, will teach English at CHS.

CMS will welcome Mary Gish as its new media specialist. Gish worked as a media specialist, IT coordinator and classroom teacher previously at Michigan City Area Schools.

Also at CMS, Kristen Peterson will teach P.E. and Health. Peterson’s previous teaching experiences have been at Portage, Frontier and Hobart high schools.

At Liberty Elementary, David Mueller will teach 4th Grade.

Sharon Wozniak and Lisa Vrahoretis have both been appointed as instructional aides at Liberty Intermediate. Also, Mary Jewison will be an instructional aide at Westchester Intermediate.

Moffett also reported staff and teachers who have turned in their resignations which include CMS English teacher Abigail Genig, CMS P.E. and Health Teacher Jill Hutcheson, Yost Elementary instructional aide Bethany Eveland, CMS Media Specialist aide Julie Frye, Liberty Elementary 2nd Grade teacher Chris Smith, Liberty Intermediate Title 1 aide Kate Mullen, Bailly Elementary Title 1 aide Lee Ann Foster, CMS 7th Grade Girls Basketball coach Jamie Anselm, DSC textbook coordinator Mildred Patrick, and bus driver Thomas Walstra.

Pruis said there will be many new faces at staff orientation this Thursday due to the large number of spots filled for all those who resigned and retired this past year.

Board president Mike Trout said that at the board’s retreat Friday afternoon it seemed to him that half of the attendees were new and expects “a good start.”

“We are looking forward to a good year,” Trout said.

Playground donation

In another matter, the board will receive playground equipment as a donation from the Geminus Corporation. The organization, which specializes in helping less fortunate families with young child development, gave to DSC out of appreciation for allowing it space to operate a Head Start site at WIS.


Posted 8/13/2013