Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School officials slam latest charter school proposal

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Last week’s notice of a public hearing for the “South Shore Classical Academy” charter school on Sept. 14 was met with surprise by the Duneland School officials but not by approval.

During Monday’s School Board meeting, Duneland Schools Superintendent David Pruis and school board members expressed opposition to having a charter school here on the basis that the institution would be using tax money that otherwise would go to the public school system.

Board President Kristin Kroeger said she “continues to be amazed and somewhat perplexed” that state lawmakers allow for charter school funding and added that charter schools are “very impactful on our (public) schools” by pulling funds away.

She and Pruis argued that although charter schools boast good educational opportunities for teaching children, Duneland offers a host of programs that are among the best in the state.

“I can’t imagine any (charter school) competing with the breadth and depth of what we have,” Pruis said.

School Board member Brandon Kroft criticized those proposing the South Shore Classical Academy charter school for never having contacted the Duneland Schools ahead of time, although they had contacted officials in Valparaiso. Pruis said last Monday’s notice was “the first he’d heard of it” and a public hearing means that the application is pretty far long in the process.

Grace College’s website says the public hearing is step 4 or 5 and it would have to make a decision for authorization by Oct. 10.

The public hearing for the charter application is from 5 to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Westchester Library Service Center.

According to, the school would open in Fall 2017 for grades K-10, with grades 11 and 12 to be added in later curriculum years. Curriculum would be focused on classical education studying the works of Shakespeare and Dante, among others, and character building.

The website says that different locations around Porter County are being considered for the school, although its application has referred to a location at 700 North and 50 West in Liberty Twp.

“It will serve only to separate and segregate students. It will dilute our support and funding from the state. And yours truly is not in favor of it,” Pruis said.

Pruis said people will need to sign in to speak at the public hearing starting at 4:45 p.m. and will be given a maximum of three minutes to state their comments. Supporters of public education are encouraged to wear red.

Those who cannot attend the hearing Wednesday can submit written comments via email by Monday, Sept. 19, at

Pruis expects a crowd at the hearing as there is great opposition as well from the Valparaiso Community Schools. VCS Superintendent Ric Frataccia posted a response late last week that he too urges the charter not be approved.

A tree for Ralph Ayres

In his Superintendent comments, Pruis said that earlier on Monday a red bud tree was planted in the courtyard at CHS in memory of Ralph Ayres, a longtime teacher and supporter of the Duneland Schools.

A ceremony was hosted by CHS student government with Ayres’ friends and family in attendance. Leading the ceremony with a dedication was student government vice-president Amber Heilmann.

9/11 Never Forget project

Pruis recognized CHS Senior Hayley O’Keefe and her family for once again remembering those who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks by placing 2,977 small U.S. flags in front of the CHS football stadium. The display was kept up Monday so it could be seen by students coming to school.

Brummitt’s walking school bus

At Brummitt Elementary, physical education teacher LouAnn Hopson is getting children to school in a healthy way by introducing a “walking school bus,” Pruis said.

The “bus,” led by adult supervisors, marches through neighborhoods close to Brummitt on Fridays and students can collectively walk to school. The first walking school bus started in the Wake Robin area last Friday. A second will be in the Graham Woods area this Friday and a third is scheduled in Duneland Cove for Friday, Sept. 23.

Homecoming parade reminder

Pruis also reminded that local community groups and organizations interested in marching in the CHS Homecoming Parade on Friday, Sept. 23 have until this Friday to contact assistant principal Robert Blumenthal at



Posted 9/13/2016




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