By KEVIN NEVERS
The Duneland School Board
has retained the financial consulting services of Umbaugh, in the run-up to
a possible new property-tax referendum in 2019.
At their meeting
Monday night, members voted unanimously to approve a contract with Umbaugh,
in an amount not to exceed $28,000, under which the firm “will help us
understand our current tax rate and how much we should seek to raise it,”
Superintendent Dr. Ginger Bolinger told the
after the meeting.
The board has already
retained the legal consulting services of Ice Miller LLP and the issue
advocacy services of the Winston/Terrell Group, should the board opt to
pursue another referendum, Bolinger said.
The referendum narrowly approved by Duneland voters in 2012--by 4,093
votes to 3,940
votes, a wafer-thin difference of only 153--levied an additional rate of up
to 22 cents on property owners’ tax bills. That rate took effect in 2013 and
will expire in 2019. Should the board put a new rate on a referendum in
2019, and that referendum passes, it would take effect in 2020.
The additional 22-cent rate
was expected to raise around $5.6 million per year and was justified at the
time as necessary to plug a growing budget shortfall and preempt anticipated
In other business, the
board voted unanimously to approve an additional appropriation of $676,000:
$206,000 from the Rainy Day Fund and $470,000 from the Referendum Fund.
The moneys will be used to
purchase a pair of SUVs, one for student transportation, the other a
security vehicle ($56,000); district-wide computer network upgrades
($150,000); student devices ($175,000); audio/video upgrades in seven
classrooms ($60,000); CHS robotics equipment ($85,000); and elementary
school media center upgrades ($150,000).
The board also voted
unanimously approved a contract with Crowe LLP to provide an independent
risk assessment of the Duneland School Corporation’s internal controls (not
to exceed $28,000), as well as conduct an audit of its Extracurricular
Activities accounts (not to exceed $14,500).
Bolinger noted, with
respect to the former, that in 2016 the board adopted minimum internal
control standards recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office
and the Indiana Uniform Code, and that with that adoption “a commitment to
assessing, evaluating, and documenting those internal controls was implied.”
With respect to the latter,
Bolinger said that the State Board of Accounts has not consistently audited
school districts’ extracurricular activities accounts since 2012, and that
roughly half of the staffers currently working with them in the Duneland
Schools has never been audited.
Meanwhile, Christy Jarka,
director of elementary learning, performance, and grant programs, and Holly
Koedyker, a high-ability licensed teacher at Liberty Elementary, gave the
board a presentation on the Duneland Schools high-ability program.
Among other things, they
spoke of the continuing professional development activities of high-ability
teachers and staff, and of the gradual phasing out of the so-called
“pull-out program” in the elementary schools, under which high-ability K-4
students have been pulled out of their regular classes for 30 minutes a day
of specialized teaching. The pull-out program has already ended in
kindergarten; and it will end for first-graders in academic year 2018-019;
second graders in 2019-20; third-graders in 2020-21; and fourth-graders in
Instead, all elementary
teachers will be “empowered to teach high-ability kids,” Koedyker said.
“Students aren’t high-ability only 30 minutes a day. And other students will
benefit too with the bar being raised.”
For more information on the
high-ability program, Jarka urged parents to visit the Duneland Schools
website at www.duneland.k12.in.us and click on the “Programs and Services”
tab for “High Ability Program.”
President John Marshall
took a moment at the end of the meeting to thank DLZ for its generous
donation of $4,600 to be used for the purchase of a large format printer.
like DLZ and other firms that make the Duneland Difference,” Marshall said.