Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer won’t be the only school official
bidding adieu at the end of this school year.
Joining him will be longtime Business Manager and Corporation Treasurer
Bonnie Gaston who let the School Board know about her plans to retire at
Assistant Superintendent of Operations Business Dave Pruis said he has
worked closely with Gaston and they have worked on more projects than he
could count, with plenty of disagreement involving some “cussin and
discussin” but also have “shared a lot of laughs.”
He said Gaston began in 1968, a total of 45 years ago.
Baer, who has worked with Gaston for 20 years, said teachers and staff came
to Gaston with questions “because she was always able to answer them.”
“No one has done more for the Duneland School Corporation than Bonnie,” Baer
continued. “She cares so much about our employees.”
Gaston’s last day will be June 30.
But that’s not everybody. Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Monte
Moffett announced retirements for seven more teachers and administrators:
Bailly Principal Mike Grubb has also been involved with Duneland Schools for
45 years, first as a fifth grade teacher at Westchester Schools and as a
coach. He taught at Bailly and became principal in 2001. In his tenure, he
has coached boys and girls basketball and golf. Students may best remember
him from his 25 years teaching drivers education.
Chesterton Middle School Media Specialist Mara Becking began working at
Chesterton High School’s west library in 1978 and has been a media
specialist for 27 years. Becking has been working at CMS for the past eight
years and among her highlights is in 1994 when the American Association of
School Librarians named the Duneland Media Program as its National Library
Media Program of the Year.
Jackson Elementary Kindergarten Teacher Susan DeWitt has also taught first
grade for a few years and has served for 21 years total.
CMS Science Teacher Greg Kearney began teaching at Liberty Middle school in
1972 and later at CMS in 2001. He has taught for 41 years.
Westchester Intermediate Fifth Grade Teacher Barbara Schaefer started
teaching at Brummitt Elementary when it opened in 1972. She taught fifth
grade since 1991 and came to Westchester when it became an intermediate
CMS Health Teacher Thomas Shelton began teaching health at Liberty Middle
School about 1971 and later moved to CMS. He has coached wrestling and
volleyball and also taught drivers ed.
CHS Science Teacher Robert “Ted” Woover has taught for 43 years and came to
the high school in 1978 after teaching in other schools. He has coached
freshman boys basketball and was the science chair for the past ten years.
Moffett said that when you tally them all up, the seven educators have
served 262 years at DSC. He later mentioned two other retirements, CHS
custodian Carolyn Francis and Bailly Elementary secretary Donna Grennes.
Board President Mike Trout gave his thanks on behalf of the board.
“Every single one of you will be missed,” he said.
Resigning are two Duneland coaches Ð Kristina Buhring who coached JV
Softball at CHS and Rachel Nidelchoff-Henry who coached varsity cheerleading
In another action on Thursday, the board approved the calendars for the next
two school years.
The first day for the 2013-2014 school year will be Aug. 21 and school will
let out on June 3. Winter recess will run from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3.
For 2014-2015, the school year will begin on Aug. 20 and will let out on
June 3 with winter recess from Dec. 22 to Jan 2.
Baer said the dates match up with other school corporations in the county
which is important because of vocational classes open to students throughout
Parents have inquired about school calendars up into 2015 because they are
already planning for what days they can take for family vacations, Baer
There will be some changes particularly to CMS’s calendar next year.
The board approved Principal Mike Megyesi’s request to start the school day
at 7:50 a.m., adding five minutes for student resource time which will go
into effect at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. SRT time will be 25
minutes as opposed to 20. Director of Transportation Jim Bonfield said
school bus traffic and times shouldn’t change because the last drop off of
students is already before 7:30 a.m.
CMS will also be reducing the amount of study halls next school year.
Megyesi said there are students who are currently taking as many as three
study halls and the school will be limiting it to one by adding more
rotation to its specials courses.
Added to the rotation is a computer keyboarding class and computer
application class which Megyesi said would better prepare students for high
school and online testing.
Those classes will be rotated with art, general music and family and
consumer sciences classes.
CMS will be able to beef up its class schedules because it will be
eliminating teachers’ teaming period where they meet to work on curriculum.
Megyesi said a parents’ survey indicated class sizes were becoming too large
and so teachers will have an additional period of teaching replacing their
Teachers will have six teaching periods and one prep period.
This will take the average class size of 33-35 students to 26-28 students,
Megyesi said. He said the school is working on a plan to work teaming in
during the school day.
A PowerPoint presentation was given to the board by Bailly Principal Mike
Grubb on the Festival of Learning which was originally started in 2002 and
highlights students abilities in the areas of math, science, music, art, and
technology among other subjects.
Grubb said the program has sustained an average participation of 85-100
students over the past eight years.
The next Festival of Learning will be on April 18, from 6-7 p.m. at Bailly
The board approved Baer’s recommendation of appointing Westchester Twp.
resident Katherine Cochran to the Westchester Public Library Board.
Baer said Cochran is a senior director of writing programs at the University
of Chicago. She will replace Sharon Robbins on the board.
Also set were the dates and fees for the upcoming summer’s drivers education
Like previous years, the class will have four sessions Ð June 10-19, June
20-July 3, July 5-16 and July 17-26. For the fourth year in a row, the fee
will be $375 for those who use the traditional classroom format and $300 for
the online classroom with $99 for driving. Out of district students will be
charged a $50 fee.
Class times include 7:30-9:45 a.m., 10:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m., and 12:30-2:45
Before adjourning the board set the dates for its next two meetings. The
board will reconvene on Thursday, March 14 and again on April 8.