Chesterton Tribune

School board votes to lease space at LIS for regional education center

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 By JEFF SCHULTZ

With the decision on the tax referendum looming over them, the Duneland School Board held a particularly quiet meeting on Monday to take care of a few housekeeping items, the biggest being a vote to house the Northwest Indiana Educational Service Center (NWIESC) offices at the Liberty Intermediate Schools starting next summer.

“This is a win-win situation as I see it,” said Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer.

NWIESC is comprised of 23 regional school corporations having membership with public schools, non-public schools, charter schools and associate member schools. The service center works cooperatively with each school district, including Duneland, to provide professional development with school staff, technology, cooperative purchasing and supplemental education services (SES) to schools in need of improvement.

The center’s office for the past few years has been centrally located inside Highland Middle School but the school has decided it needs the space for two more sixth grade classrooms, said Ed Schoenfelt, who started as executive director of NWIESC this January. The agency set its sights on relocating to Duneland School District because of its good reputation.

Baer formally asked the board to offer a lease agreement to NWIESC for two years at $1,000 per month or $12,000 annually plus a $7,800 annual amount for a Local Education Agency (LEA) agreement which arranges for Duneland staff to perform duties such as payroll matters for the agency. The space in the lease is classroom space not in use at Liberty Intermediate.

The board unanimously favored the two-year agreement with a 90-day opt-out period for NWIESC.

“It’s a good way to maximize the amount of space,” said board member Michael Trout.

Schoenfelt, who actually resides in Duneland, said he found the lease very reasonable. “This will be a good agreement,” he said.

Baer said another benefit for Duneland is school officials will not need to travel long distances to NWIESC meetings. The lease amount paid to the school can be used whichever way the school may choose, Baer said, but will likely go to the school corporation’s general fund.

Schoenfelt said NWIESC will be exiting Highland on June 1 and should to be settled in to Liberty Intermediate by the start of July.

Tardy Policy Restructured

In more technical housekeeping duties, the board approved minor changes to the student handbook, the most significant being a revision to have tardiness handled by a classroom teacher rather than sending a student to the school office.

Under the new rules, a student with three tardies is subject to a one hour detention with the teacher, said Chesterton High School Assistant Principal Tom McGinty. Four and five tardies will result in longer detention periods while any more than five could mean in-school suspension.

In other business, the board approved two new music books for Chesterton High School, one on music theory and the other on piano keyboarding. Grades K-8 will have the electronic book “Interactive Music” next school year. CHS art classes will be receiving three new textbooks next year.

Duneland Assistant Superintendent Monte Moffett announced in his personnel report the appointment of John Komeanas to be the Run Club sponsor for Westchester Intermediate School. Brummitt Elementary Fourth Grade Teacher Kristen Saler will be on leave the remainder of the school year for child care.

Music programs cheered

Fourth graders from Jackson Elementary School gave a brief musical performance for the board ; a positive example of the impact music has on the students’ lives.

Jackson Elementary music teacher Shannon Stutler directed the students through their act “Getting Out of Town” which they performed earlier this year as their fourth-grade musical. An ensemble of 15 students played cymbals, xylophones, recorders, and drums and sang music styles from other countries: Andrey Benus, Connor Killander, Austin Ridge, Rhianna Ritz, Adam Wilson, Taylor Wilson, Gigi Ricciardi, Austynn Dalton, Isabel Richey, Jack Ward, Dylan Hilzley, Logan Peterson, Grace Whah, Whitney Siewin and Christian Charlson.

Jackson Elementary Principal Linda Rugg said she shares the children’s joy of music and presented statistics that said schools with music programs have substantially higher rates of attendance and graduation rates, more than 90 percent. Music increases language, reading, science and math skills in students.

Baer also expressed his gratification at being able to provide music and art programs in all district schools.

Baer: Go Vote!

Baer had very few words to say in his monthly report to the school board other than reminding the board and those sitting in the audience that the referendum for the school corporation will be today with the polls closing at 6 p.m.

“We encourage all of you to be informed and vote,” Baer said.

 

Posted 5/8/2012