Chesterton Tribune



School Board OKs CHS flex lab to upgrade manufacturing classes

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The auto shop at CHS will be reconfigured into a flex lab where students can get hands-on experience with the same kind of equipment they would use at an employer like Ford or Urschel.

The Duneland School Board approved the project at its meeting Monday night, after a presentation from CHS Principal Brent Martinson, CHS Industrial Tech teacher Tom Moodie, and Director of Support Services Greg Lindy.

Martinson said the flex lab is an integral part of the manufacturing pathway at CHS, which is one of several pathways being put in place at Duneland to meet Indiana’s new graduation requirements that aim to ensure career and post-secondary readiness among high school graduates.

Martinson noted the Indiana Department of Workforce Development predicts a 30-percent growth rate for manufacturing jobs in the region, and he wants to make sure CHS students can learn the skills needed for those jobs. “We want to get our kids exposed to this as early as possible, ninth grade, so they can have the skills and be ready for jobs right after high school,” Martinson said.

Not only will students gain experience with vertical mills and engine lathes and designing using CNC code, the lab will expose interested students to welding processes, cutting torches, and plasma cutters in an introductory environment. Moodie said the experience students gain in the lab will help feed students who aren’t college bound into vocational programs at the career center and into employment at local businesses. They could even earn industry-specific and OSHA certifications before graduation.

Moodie said he knows from experience that the flex lab can help college-bound students, too. “Our philosophy is to start out the kids in the manual aspect of it. Before we use a calculator, we all learned how to do math by hand, so when the calculator spits out a number, you know where it came from,” Moodie said. “The best double-edged sword is understanding the practical aspects of engineering as well as engineering itself.”

“I think it’s well worth it for our kids, our community, and Duneland schools,” Moodie added.

Lindy said the project will require widening the space that is now the auto shop, which means knocking down some walls and expanding the shop’s footprint into what is now an unused room. Tria Architecture planned the space with extra clearance around the machines for more of a safety buffer and easy evacuation during emergency drills. The cost is approximately $140,000.

Martinson said about 120 CHS students currently take manufacturing classes. With the new flex lab, there is potential for 150 to 200 students to take those classes each semester. Martinson also said Moodie will implement a manufacturing club estimated to capture 50 to 100 members, “So it’s going to hit a good quarter of our population.”

Other Business

The Board approved changing the compensation structure for Expulsion Examiner Mark Lutze. Lutze will be paid a monthly retainer of $125 and a flat $150 for each decision rendered. Duneland Schools Superintendent Chip Pettit reported that Lutze’s time commitment is four to six working hours per expulsion referral, and referrals are up since more kids are using vape and e-cigarette devices.

The Board approved secondary curricular materials lists and fees. Director of Secondary Learning and Performance Judy Malasto reported materials and fees are relatively the same, though secondary fees and lists tend to be unique from course to course, unlike elementary and intermediate supplies.

Malasto said English fees for CMS saw a significant reduction since more materials are digital and provided by Duneland. For CHS, there were notable reductions in fees related to business classes due to teachers curating their own stockpiles of resources. Malasto said CHS Principal Brent Martinson worked very hard alongside his department heads to determine what materials were no longer relevant or appropriate to reduce fees.


Public Relations Director Bridget Martinson reported school starts Wednesday, Aug. 14. Individual student bus routes will be available starting Wednesday, Aug. 7 in the parent access portal. “Routes can fluctuate due to continued registration, so please continue to watch your portal for any minor changes in student pick-up and drop-off times,” Martinson said.

There were no accidents in the summer school driver’s ed program for the first time in approximately five years.

Pettit said K- 8 teachers will be back to work Friday and all teachers will be back to work next week. Parents who need help with registration are encouraged to contact their individual schools.

Pettit also appealed to the community to be aware of increased traffic from buses and school pick-up and drop-off as school begins and to stay vigilant. Pettit noted that some Duneland buses have been equipped with stop arm camera technology to captures images of any vehicles that illegally disregard stop arms to pass buses.





Posted 8/7/2019




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