Chesterton Tribune



Westchester Intermediate teaches the whole student, board is told

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Westchester Intermediate Principal Shawn Longacre gave a presentation on Westchester Intermediate School at the Duneland School Board’s meeting Monday.

Longacre said the mission at WIS is to become “the keystone to developing successful students,” and staff accomplishes that at WIS by teaching the whole student in addition to working toward better standardized test scores.

“Research has consistently proven that the biggest factor in school success is socio-economics,” Longacre said. “All of us need to be approachable. We need to continue to make Westchester a place where kids want to come to learn.”

Longacre said a big factor in how WIS staff works is considering how Adverse Childhood Effects (ACEs) like death, divorce, abuse, and social media are affecting students’ learning abilities.

Longacre said many WIS students are on free or reduced lunch, and an average of 20 percent of WIS students are on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). In spite of whatever challenges WIS kids face, Longacre reported WIS performed the best out of the free and reduced lunch schools in its league of comparable Indiana schools on the ILEARN test, and work is underway to improve scores.

Since ILEARN, a completely computer-based test took the place of ISTEP+ last year, WIS students are now learning with an emphasis on writing across all subjects and the “whys” behind math concepts. Students are also reading more nonfiction, learning critical analysis skills, and practicing typing.

Though Longacre says he’s dedicated to improving students’ ILEARN scores and is “one of the most completive people around,” WIS students will also read a book about bullying and its effects for their school-wide reading program later this year. He’s also implemented a system called, “the Longacre Shaker,” where students with the best essays are rewarded with a handshake and praise from him--along with some dance moves.

“They know they’re taking a high stakes test. We track data, and they know it,” he said. “But, at Westchester, we will continue to teach the whole child, and we always will.”


The Board completed several of its beginning-of-the-year housekeeping tasks Monday, including approving annual contracts and board member compensation.

The Board approved its annual compensation with no changes and approved its 2020 meeting schedule. Meetings will continue on the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m., except for July and September, when the Board meets the second Monday of the month due to holidays.

Duneland CFO Lynn Kwilasz and Business Manager Mary Jo Brust were reappointed as Corporation Treasurer and Deputy Treasurer and bonded for $100,000 each. The Board also reupped its legal services agreement with Harris, Welsh & Lukmann (in addition to its agreement with Attorney Monica Conrad of Lewis Kappes, who the Board retains for personnel and student legal matters), then reappointed John Marshall as the 2020 legislative liaison and corporation delegate to the Indiana School Board Association.

Other Approvals

Director of Support Services Greg Lindy reported he got four bids to replace one of the three chillers in the Chesterton High School HVAC system. All three units are near end-of-life, but bids for replacing all three at once were too cost-prohibitive, according to Lindy. The unit being replaced has been down for several months already, and Lindy wants to replace it by the time warmer weather hits. The Board approved Cryer Olson Mechanical Inc. to do the work for $570,000.

The Board also approved two rounds of policy updates, one on first reading and one on final reading, to keep up with legal changes and updates from the Ohio-based company that provides Duneland’s policies (NEOLA), and make technical corrections.

The Board also approved two new policies on first reading. Assistant Superintendent Robert McDermott said Policy 2462 dictates the screening of certain students for dyslexia that is now required by State law. Policy 3431 is related to administrative leaves of absence/temporary reassignment intended to protect staff privacy during investigations that don’t result in disciplinary action. There will be a final reading next month.

Board of Finance

After its regular meeting, the Board reconvened as the Board of Finance. The Board of Finance elected Brandon Kroft President and Alayna Lightfoot Pol Secretary.

The Board reviewed its 2019 investment report and its investment policy and heard a presentation on the fiscal condition of the School Corporation from Kwilasz. Kwilasz reported Duneland netted approximately $700,000 in interest on its certificates of deposit investments in 2019, and DSC as a whole did well in 2019, operating within its budget and maintaining reserves that would sustain the Corporation in an emergency.

Public Relations Info

Public Relations Director Bridget Martinson reported the second grading period ended Dec. 18, and report cards are now available on Skyward.

Martinson also made a reminder that there will be no school on Monday, Jan. 20 in observance of Martin Luther King. Jr. Day. Schools resumes Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Martinson encouraged those interested to check out the new Duneland Schools website and keep an eye out for events from the CHS Alumni Association. The Alumni Association is planning fundraisers to provide scholarships to graduating CHS seniors, the first of which will be a pancake breakfast at George’s Gyros from 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday, March 14. The group is also planning its first annual dinner, where four $500 scholarships will be awarded, on May 7.



Posted 1/16/2020






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