Monday’s Duneland School Board meeting began with a hello and ended with a
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
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
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
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
Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett announced an appointment and a
resignation in the personnel report.
has been hired as an instructional aide at Liberty Elementary. Resigning is
Erin Caldwell, an instructional aide at CMS.