Chesterton Tribune


Kroeger and Marshall sworn in as Duneland board members; Trout elected president

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Monday’s Duneland School Board meeting began with a hello and ended with a good-bye.

Kicking off the new year, the election winners in the 2012 school board race, At-Large member John Marshall and Jackson Twp. member Kristin Kroeger, were sworn in by Duneland’s legal representative Mike Harris.

Next, the board unanimously selected member Mike Trout to be its president for this year on a motion made by board member Ralph Ayres.

Trout, a past board president in 2010, returned the nod, nominating Ayres as vice-president and board member Ronald Stone as secretary. The new slate was accepted by all members of the board

Also, Harris, of Harris, Welsh and Lukmann law firm, was chosen once again to be the board’s legal counsel, a title he first acquired in 1964 and has kept since. Dr. John Forchetti will be retained as physician for the school corporation.

Also identical to last year, board members will see their salaries at a stipend of $2,000 annually, as allowed by the state. At the recommendation of Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer, board members will receive $112 for each regular meeting in addition to the stipend plus $62 for each executive session.

A switch was made for the board’s liaison to the Indiana School Board Association’s legislative and policy committees. Instead of Ayres who has filled the role for two years, this year will see Marshall in the liaison spot.

According to state statute, the school board named non-voting liaisons to local redevelopment commissions. Ayres will be liaison to the Burns Harbor commission, Stone will continue to do the same for the Porter commission and Trout will replace Janice Custer as liaison for the Chesterton commission.

The board then established its meeting schedule for the year, keeping the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. as the regular meeting time, unless there is a conflict. The board will continue to meet in the Duneland Administration Center.

The aforementioned good-bye came from Baer, who later announced his resignation as superintendent and his retirement from Duneland after 26 years, during which he also served as a CHS principal and assistant superintendent (see related story).

Investments stagger

Opening up the Board of Finance meeting, Duneland Business Manager Bonnie Gaston said Duneland’s investment earnings were “more gloom” this year due to exceptionally low interest rates.

In 2012, the corporation earned only $16,136 total in interest for the general fund, pension bond fund and food service combined. The interest for the health plan fund this year was $6,140.

Gaston said the school corporation has checking and savings accounts with five local banks and the highest interest rate they could get was .14 percent from Chase Savings Account. She said the corporation does not have any money wrapped up in CDs because they have an even lower rate than the savings account.

Board members recalled a time not so long ago when the interest funds were significant revenue sources. Less than a decade ago the interest from the general fund alone was $710,232 in 2007, but has continued to drop since 2008. In 2010, the general fund earned almost $60,000 while the health plan earned $22,000.

Baer noted that the state no longer gives schools the option of investing property tax proceeds.

Gaston said a consultant will meet soon with the school business office to explore ways to stimulate more interest growth.

Guidance programs

build mental health

Counselors Doug Adams and Laura Herrod at Chesterton Middle School spoke of how they are engaging students in mentoring programs to help those at risk of behavioral or emotional problems.

Adams, who is in his second year as 7th grade counselor, elaborated on the Student Assistant Team which is made up of teachers, counselors and the school principal. Together they collect data from students, school staff and parents to identify the specific needs of a student and help them set goals.

The process could include such things as peer tutoring, individual or group counseling and referrals for evaluation.

Those in the mentoring program have a breakfast meeting each month where students engage in group activities and mentors can keep track of how mentees are working towards their goals. Mentors meet with mentees on a weekly basis and fill out SAT evaluations at every term and midterm.

As of now, 32 students are in the mentoring program and about 80 students who have been through the program are monitored, Adams said. About 30 additional students are involved in the peer tutoring programs, Adams said.

Adams said CMS is also developing a bystander program to promote leadership, empathy, and accountability to impact the social climate at CMS.

Herrod’s Students Helping Others program, or SHO, consists of eight CMS students who have volunteered to be someone who students can go to if they are having problems or having conflicts with other students. The program is designed to help stop school bullying.

Herrod said peer mediation is effective because students often know better what young people their age are going through.

“Kids understand kids. It just makes sense,” she said.

Peer mediation is confidential unless there is a threat where a student could cause harm to themselves or others, then the mediator would report to a teacher, counselor or principal.

“Conflict is a part of life but we want to make the atmosphere in our building safer for students,” said Herrod who has been the CMS 8th grade counselor for 15 years. “We like happy, safe kids and we’ve really got some great kids.”


Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett announced an appointment and a resignation in the personnel report.

Kristin Lewis has been hired as an instructional aide at Liberty Elementary. Resigning is Erin Caldwell, an instructional aide at CMS.



Posted 1/9/2013