Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School board splits 3-2; Kroeger wants discussion

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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 to.

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.

Open enrollment changes

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 alcohol policy.

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.

School Board 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.

Circuit breaker credits

Meanwhile, the 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.


Posted 6/24/2014




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