Chesterton Tribune



Duneland Teachers Association hails new contract; school board adopts budget

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Both parties congratulated each other in the peaceful negotiation of a new two-year collective bargaining agreement between the Duneland School Board and the Duneland Teachers Association.

The School Board adopted the agreement at its meeting Monday by a vote of 5-0. The new contract contains fringe benefits and salary provisions for DTA members as did the previous contract adopted by the board last year, which was the result of many long negotiations.

Effective until June 30, 2019, the contract stipulates that the salary range for the 2017-18 school year will be $39,000 to $70,235 and the range for 2018-19 will be $40,000 to $72,235. Teachers who receive an effective or highly effective rating and have worked a minimum of 120 school days are eligible to see a $2,000 increase in their base salaries for 2017-18 and a 2 percent increase for 2018-19, according to the contract.

Before the vote, DTA co-president Bobbi Hall expressed her gratitude to the board, Schools Superintendent Ginger Bolinger and Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz.

“I want to express, not only for myself but also for (DTA negotiator Bob DeRuntz and co-president Anne Stark), we feel really good about the relationship that was formed and all that you do for our teachers. We greatly appreciate that,” Hall said, prompting applause from those in the audience.

“We love our teachers,” responded Board President Kristin Kroeger.

Bolinger, who is in her first year as superintendent, echoed that “it was a very great session.”

“I appreciate everyone’s work. We value our teachers. We want our employees to be paid well and I recommend approval of this contract in that spirit,” Bolinger told the board.

DeRuntz said the Duneland Schools Administration Office plans to issue a press statement on the contract but commented the Chesterton Tribune that the contract and partnership with the DTA and the administration lays the groundwork for attracting highly-skilled teachers to Duneland.

Also, the board approved changes to the Duneland employee health plan recommended by the insurance committee. The plan will now offer a high deductible plan with a health savings account that employees can participate in starting Jan. 1.

Bolinger said the premium that would have been paid for by the school corporation to a PPO plan can now be added to an employee’s health savings account. The money accumulated in the HSA over the years can be used for health care expenses later.

The school corporation is also looking to change its wellness service provider, Bolinger said, by switching to Wellness For Life. She said more information will be shared at next month’s school board meeting.

2018 Budget

Along with the DTA contract, the board voted 5-0 to adopt the proposed 2018 budget for Duneland Schools.

Approved were separate resolutions for the budget’s tax levied funds -- the Capital Projects Fund, the Bus Replacement Fund and Pension Debt Obligations.

The total budget is $69,351,347, which is $2 million higher than what was advertised for 2017.

The general fund, which is the largest fund and is determined by the State’s school funding formula and pays for teacher salaries and programs, is at $39.1 million in the 2018 budget.

Duneland plans to replace eight buses next year, with an estimated $826,130 in its Bus Replacement Fund. The Transportation Operations Fund was adopted at $4.3 million and the School Referendum Fund at $7.6 million.

The schools’ proposed tax rate for 2018 is $1.0806 per $100 of assessed valuation.

The state will certify the final budget levy and the tax rate early next year.

Building projects

Meanwhile, Director of Support Services Greg Lindy presented a recap of projects completed this year as well as looking at potential projects in 2018.

Since the start of summer, Lindy and his team have worked on nearly 50 projects, including:

-- Roofing at Westchester Intermediate.

-- Renovating the cafeteria at Liberty Intermediate and installing new playground equipment.

-- Replacing fire panels at several school buildings.

-- Installing sanitary service hook up at the Special Services Bus Barn to the Town of Chesterton’s system.

--Repairing and relocating the Varsity and JV Baseball scoreboards at Chesterton High School.

-- Making upgrades to the CMS natatorium.

The list of projects for 2018 currently includes:

-- A new coat and restriping of the running track at CHS, along with further repaving of the parking lot and replacing the fire panel.

-- Refurbishing another science lab at CMS.

-- Adding air conditioning in the gymnasium at Westchester Intermediate and remarking the floor.

-- Switching the art room at Bailly Elementary over to a new kindergarten classroom. The art room will be moved to a new location.

-- An outdoor classroom in the back of Brummitt Elementary in the space where an old home near the school was torn down last year. The classroom could be built by the CHS Building Trades class.

-- Reconfiguring the main office entry at Jackson Elementary and improving the gymnasium.

-- Improvements to the student drop-off area at Liberty Elementary by adding another driveway.

-- Adding air conditioning to the gymnasium and replace playground equipment at Yost Elementary.

-- Repairs for CHS athletic fields (dugouts, storage areas) and resurfacing tennis court.

-- Roof repair at Westchester and Liberty Intermediate schools.

-- Remodeling of CMS main office.

-- Painting a variety of classrooms and hallways.



Posted 10/10/2017




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