Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Schools set makeup day February 17; Spring head count lower than fall

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Winter’s deluge of arctic air and mounds of snow will stick around for another week and while Duneland School students may be getting a kick out of the back-to-back snow days, they may not like hearing they will be making up one of those on President’s Day, Feb. 17.

At Monday’s Duneland school board meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dave Pruis said the district missed a total of five days last month due to the “polar vortex,” specifically Jan. 6, 7, 8, 20, and 21. The Indiana Department of Education approved a waiver for Jan. 6 and 7, which leaves three days that Duneland will need to reschedule.

“It’s in everyone’s best interest that we make up what instructional time we can for our students,” Pruis said.

The administration had set aside Friday, Feb. 14 as the first make-up day, with a second on Friday, April 25. But to avoid tacking on more days to the school calendar, Pruis announced the decision that Presidents’ Day on Monday, Feb. 17, will be the third designated make-up day.

Pruis said he realizes some families may have already made plans for recreational activities, but asked that all children attend school that day. President’s Day is a national holiday that students typically have off.

“We hope we don’t have any more visits from the polar vortex,” said Pruis. “Whenever we cancel school, we understand it’s a big inconvenience. Students may be cheering but moms and dads aren’t. The staff and teachers aren’t exactly happy about it either. It all goes to show that safety is the number one priority.”

Pruis added that Duneland is lucky to have “dodged a bullet” on Jan. 22 when a narrow band of heavy snow showers was moving towards Porter County, then moved west dumping more than 20 inches on some areas of Lake County.

“You can’t predict it,” he said.

ADM Count

Also in his superintendent’s comments, Pruis said Monday was the spring 2014 average daily membership count date, which will be used to determine how much a school will get in funding for the next six months, or the rest of the fiscal year.

Pruis said the unofficial number as of Monday stood at 5,687.5 students, about 35 less than what the count was in September. He said that is “not too bad” considering there were reportedly 28 students at the high school who graduated midterm.

Also, the school board signed to receive an Indiana Secured Safety Grant for the 2015 fiscal year with funds from the Department of Homeland Security for the purpose of a school corporation or a charter school to employ a school resource officer, perform a threat assessment and to purchase equipment to aid in emergencies.

School corporations that are Duneland’s size can receive a matching grant of up to $50,000 a year.

Utility agreement

Pruis mentioned a new ruling by the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission would require the board to approve an amendment with the Damon Run Conservancy District’s agreement for sanitary sewer and water utility services.

Board member Ron Stone said he would be apprehensive giving his approval on a new agreement with DRCD, saying it bothered him that some constituents in Liberty Twp. have said they’ve “gotten jacked” with rate increases when they were told rates would be lower with the annex of Porter Regional Hospital.

Duneland Director of Services Greg Lindy said there are changes to the fee structure but it will not be an increase on the rates the school corporation is currently paying the DRCD.

“It’s the same amount as it used to be,” Lindy said.

With that, Stone ended up voting in favor of the amendment with the rest of his peers, 5-0.

Field trip to Georgia

In other business, the board approved an out-of-state field trip for CHS students who will travel to Kennesaw, Ga. to participate in the Locomotive Half Marathon and Locomotive Thunder 5K events.

Pruis said the 13 students and the five adult supervisors going on the trip are paying the expenses themselves and providing their own transportation. The group will leave Friday after school and will return Sunday night, he said.

Legislation

School Board president Ralph Ayres announced the Porter County Retired Teachers Association will hold its third annual legislative forum open to the public at Wheeler High School at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 8.

He also noted Monday was the last day that house bills could be voted on by state representatives to be passed on to the Senate. The Senate will need to have their bills ready to pass to the House on Wednesday, Ayres said.

“After this week, we can get a better photograph as to where this affects public education,” he said.

Accolades

Pruis also praised the CHS Debate team, which recently brought home the title of State Champions. This if the 24th state title CHS has received since 1983, he added.

Chesterton held a lead over its closest rival West Lafayette by a total of 15.5 points.

Pruis also lauded the Westchester Intermediate students who scored high in the 5th/6th grade Corn Belt Thinking Cap Quiz.

Another mention was the CHS girls swim team who were champions in the Duneland Athletic Conference in January.

Meeting Dates

The board approved its upcoming meeting dates for Monday, March 3, and Monday, April 14.

 

Posted 2/4/2014