Lack of discussion
by the board on new policies was cited as the reason a Duneland School Board
member changed her vote to “no” on second reading. Monday, the School Board
voted 3-2 for final adoption of the revised policies.
Voting against were
Vice-President Kristin Kroeger and Secretary Ronald Stone. In favor were
Mike Trout, John Marshall, and board president Ralph Ayres.
Kroeger had voted
in favor of the policies during first reading at the June 2 board meeting
but voted “nay” this time saying “I’m for more discussion.”
“I think there is
more consideration to be paid,” she told the Chesterton Tribune after
meeting, though not saying what specific parts of the policy she objected
Stone restated his
previous objections to the schools’ open enrollment policy, saying he is in
favor of smaller classes which, he says, was one of the goals of the school
referendum two years ago.
He said he feels
the needs of students living in Duneland should be the Corporation’s primary
commitment rather than those transferring from other areas.
Kroeger said she
feels that Stone’s points should have been further explored in the board’s
discussion. She also voted against the board’s acceptance of the consent
agenda, which includes claims and warrants and the personnel report, again
stating she feels the board had not discussed it enough.
Kroeger, who is the
Jackson Twp. representative, said she is “working on” methods to open up
more communication within the board.
As for the open
enrollment policy, Superintendent of Schools David Pruis said the policy has
been in place as far back as his memory goes. He said the policy has been
updated several times since 2005 because of changes in by the state
legislature. The revisions adopted at Monday’s meeting stemmed from new
state laws that go into effect this year.
The updated policy
includes a section establishing how transfer students outside the school
corporation can be accepted. The board can now establish the number of
transfer students at each school and grade level and the date they can be
enrolled, which it then shall report to the Indiana Department of Education.
Requests to enroll
a transfer student shall not be denied, the policy states, if they have
already been enrolled for a year in the school corporation, are a member of
a household with another student already attending the school corporation,
or have a parent who is an employee of the corporation.
If the number of
transfer requests exceeds the number set by the board, enrollments may be
picked at random to give each student an equal chance of being selected.
Applications may be denied if the prospective transfer student has been
suspended or expelled at their current school for reasons including
possessing a firearm, causing physical injury to a fellow student, a school
employee or visitor, and for violating the associated school’s drug or
Pruis said that the
state has said transfer students do not have to pay tuition to come to a
school corporation because they are counted in the school’s average daily
membership number, which the state uses to allocate funding per student.
He said the open
enrollment policies affect school corporations throughout the state. “This
is not unique to Duneland,” Pruis said.
Other changes could
be on the way next year.
Pruis said State
Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, has said he plans to introduce a bill next
year to correct language regarding transfer students attending the same
school corporation where their parent works.
President Ralph Ayres said he welcomes ways to have more opportunities for
the board to have further discussions. He said the reason for the majority
voting in favor of the updates is to have school policy updated in time for
the new laws to take effect, which most of them will on July 1.
board voted unanimously in favor of reallocations of circuit breaker credits
from the debt service obligation fund and the pension debt service which are
impervious to the tax cap effects.
Roughly $248,000 in
credits were distributed to other property tax supported funds within the
overall Duneland School Budgets. The board voted 5-0 in favor of DSC Chief
Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz’s suggestion to transfer $234,369 to the
transportation operations fund, $13,685 to the bus replacement fund, and $0
to the Capital Projects Fund since the DSC did not want the CPF budget to
face reductions because of the property tax credits.
Schools in the
state can reallocate circuit breaker credits because of new legislation that
was passed this year, Kwilasz said.