Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School Board to reevaluate transfer student policy during private retreat

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The Duneland School Board is planning to re-evaluate its policy of accepting transfer students from outside the district at its annual retreat later this summer.

At their meeting Monday night, members appeared unwilling or unprepared to discuss the transfer policy in any detail publicly, following Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett’s report on the number of incoming and outgoing transfer students in the 2017-18 academic year.

The Average Daily Membership (ADM) of the Duneland School Corporation in 2018: 5,840 students. Of those, 272 were incoming, who provided $1,538,976 in additional tuition support, at $5,658 per student in state funding. The loss of 434 transfer students, on the other hand, resulted in a loss of $2,455,572, Moffett reported, for a net loss of $916,596.

Moffett further estimated that, while Duneland taxpayers are contributing approximately $1,333 per student to the Capital Projects Fund, the 272 transfer students from outside the district whose parents are not Duneland taxpayers represent a total revenue loss of $362,576.

Moffett added that 318 transfer students are expected to enroll in the Duneland Schools for the 2018-19 academic year, generating $1,799,244 in additional tuition support. Of those 318, 16 are the children of Duneland Schools employees.

After Moffett’s report, President John Marshall spoke only generally about the transfer policy and noted that the board will discuss it in depth at its retreat. “We are never going to make a long-term commitment to transfer students,” he did say, however. “We’ll look at it from year to year. There are very mixed feelings on the board. There are positives and negatives about the transfer policy.”

Then, when Member Ron Stone, an opponent of the transfer policy, indicated his willingness to have the discussion right then and there, Marshall suggested that he wait until the retreat. “You’ll have your opportunity,” he said.

Stone did say that, at the moment, the Valparaiso and Portage school districts, currently closed to transfers, are right now losing students to the Duneland Schools. If they were to open their schools to transfers, though, it would be a “free-for-all.”

Member Brandon Kroft noted that, prior to any action by the board, members of the public will have the chance to comment on the transfer policy.

After the meeting, Stone told the Chesterton Tribune that, should the board take action to rescind the transfer policy, all transfer students currently enrolled in the Duneland Schools would be grandfathered in, as would be their siblings, so that the program would unwind gradually over a period of years. Stone added that he’s in favor of accepting the children of employees who live outside the district “regardless of whether the Duneland School Corporation is open or closed.”

Stone cited three reasons for his opposition to the transfer policy. For one thing, he said, it increases class sizes. “I think we should take care of our own students.”

For another, the parents of transfer students aren’t paying property taxes in Duneland but their children “use our resources,” Stone said.

Finally, bus service isn’t provided to transfer students, which has the effect of increasing the drop-off and pickup lines at schools. “An extra 318 students mean an extra 200 cars,” Stone suggested.


Posted 7/17/2018




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