Chesterton Tribune



Schools seek tech funds; public mum on budget

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Duneland School Administrators received permission from the School Board Tuesday to apply for a second set of Common School Loans for the one-to-one school initiative.

Duneland received a Common School Fund Loan in May this year for $580,900 from the Indiana Department of Education that would pay for 2,200 tablet computers and keyboard cases. The DOE makes Common School Fund Loans available to school corporations for construction and technology.

At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, Duneland’s Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz said she is not sure what the DOE will award for the loan this fall but the school will accept if it is given. The loans will be paid back through Duneland’s Debt Service fund, she said.

Duneland Superintendent of Schools Ginger Bolinger said with interest rates being low currently, about one percent, it is advantageous for the schools to borrow money at this time.

“We would incur limited debt at a very reduced price to do things we would like to do in our district,” Bolinger told the board. The board voted 5-0 in favor of the request.

A one-to-one computing school is where each student would have access to a computer or smart technology device. The students would complete assignments digitally on the devices.

Kwilasz said the loans will free up more funds in Duneland’s Capital Projects Fund which pays for both technology and building construction projects.

Public silent on school budget

Tuesday’s meeting also included a public hearing for the schools’ Capital Project Funds budget, the Bus Replacement Plan budget and the overall proposed budget for 2018.

No one from the public made any comment.

The total budget is $69,958,347, which is $2.6 million higher than what was advertised for 2017.

The general fund, which is the largest fund and is determined by the State’s school funding formula and pays for teacher salaries and programs, is at $39.1 million in the 2018 budget. Kwilasz said the basic tuition support per pupil funding is what determines the general fund and is based on the schools’ Average Daily Membership count taken on the second Friday after Labor Day. Duneland is expected to be down somewhat from the 5,858 students counted last year but the state’s per pupil funding is $105 more than in 2017.

The Capital Projects Fund is advertised at $9.5 million, but Kwilasz expects for it to receive a little under $9 million when the budget is approved. Figures are overstated, Kwilasz said, so the school corporation can get the maximum amount of money allowed from its levy. About $3 million is earmarked for building acquisition, construction and equipment while $1.3 million is advertised for technology.

Kwilasz said about 65 percent of items in the CPF budget are fixed costs.

Duneland plans to replace eight buses next year, with an estimated $826,130 in its Bus Replacement Fund.

Also advertised in the 2018 proposed budget is the Transportation Operations Fund at $4.3 million and the School Referendum Fund at $7.6 million.

The maximum estimated levy is advertised is $28.3 million with $711,230 as the estimated property tax cap credit based on Duneland’s assessed value.

Kwilasz said the schools’ advertised tax rate for 2018 is $1.0766 per $100 of assessed valuation, comparable to 2017’s advertised rate of $1.0694. The state eventually approved the 2017 rate at about $.96, she said.

The school board is expected to adopt the proposed budget at its next meeting in October.

Reconsideration Committee

In other business, the school board approved 5-0 the list of members of the Materials Reconsideration Committee.

If there are objections made to any materials used in classrooms or in libraries, the committee, which includes staff, teachers and students at different grade levels, will review the concern, Bolinger said.

Digital Citizenship at Brummitt

Students at Brummitt Elementary are acquainted with the fundamentals of online etiquette.

Principal Antonino Cammarata, in presenting to the School Board, said that the issues related to cyberbullying have been present since the first computers but they are an integral part of our lives, so the school wanted to create a “digital citizen” model.

“This is somebody who thinks critically, who acts appropriately online and makes responsible decisions while they are using technology,” he said. The concept has been part of teachers’ professional development and the school is prepared to roll it out to students and parents.

Media Specialist Elissa Dortmund said she saw a presentation this past summer using digital citizenship at the eVillage conference and felt it necessary to dive into the curriculum with the transition of the one-to-one initiative that gives each student a tablet computer to do lessons. The concept will be used to help Brummitt become a Common Sense School for digital citizenship, she said.

The lessons will be taught in media classes, Dortmund said. The mission is for students to become responsible for using technology safely by protecting their private information, respecting others, staying safe online, balancing their device time and standing up to cyberbullying, she said.

The school will invite parents to an informational session in October on digital citizenship. Each grade level will learn subjects appropriate for their age level, Dortmund said.

One technology geared toward kindergartners was demonstrated during the presentation. The software is called Learning Alive which uses graphics and sounds of animals -- “augmented reality” -- to teach letter sounds, words and sentence structure.

Superintendent comments

Bolinger at the end of the meeting congratulated the six Chesterton High School seniors who are among the nation’s 16,000 semi-finalist for the National Merit Scholar competition -- Raymond “CJ” Connors, Tristan Dooley, Karlyn Layman, Bryan Pamintuan, Nolan Poczekay and Kristina Stevenson.

Duneland will have yard signs available with the names to recognize the students and their achievements. “We are very proud of them,” said Bolinger.

Also, Bolinger said CHS will have a Drug Prevention and Outreach Program event on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 6 p.m. in the CHS auditorium. Indiana University basketball player Todd Jadlow will speak on his struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

Meanwhile, all Duneland Schools are collecting monetary donations for the Pasadena Independent School District in Texas, that was devastated by Hurricane Harvey. Bolinger said Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Human Resources Monte Moffett has a brother who works in that district. Donations will be sent to the Pasadena Education Foundation.

A 5K fun run and walk to support the Duneland Education Foundation will be held on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 9 a.m., at CHS during homecoming weekend.



Posted 9/20/2017





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