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