Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School Board hears report on remote learning during Covid 19

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Members of the Duneland School Board met in the Chesterton Middle School auditorium Monday night for the final meeting of the year . The board heard presentations on teaching and learning in a remote environment, and an update on social and emotional learning.

Christy Jarka, director of Teaching & Learning K-6, presented the board with materials on teaching and learning in a remote environment. “The purpose of the documents is to ensure that students receive quality instruction during the remote learning period,” Jarka said. Among the highlights noted were the requirements that “Teachers should plan on synchronous contact with students every day except for Wednesdays which is an e-learning day and should respond to parent emails within a 24-hour period.” She said that student responsibilities include attendance activities, logging into Canvas every day, complete work as directed by teachers, be accountable for all work by the due date, meet regularly with teachers via Canvas and receive feedback from teachers for their work.

Debra Ciochina, director of Teaching & Learning 7-12, explained that the current remote model is “much different” than the model utilized during the emergency period. “Teachers are still working in a brand-new environment. In a way, they are flying it while still building it,” said Ciochina.

Assistant Superintendent Robert McDermott gave a presentation on social and emotional learning and how the Duneland Schools meet these needs for students. He highlighted work done by teachers and support staff, social and emotional learning specialists, school counselors, and the behavioral support services provided by partners with Porter-Starke Services, therapist support from partners Crown Counseling, and mental health support from partners at NorthShore. He introduced Nicole Slack who was hired at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year as the Social Emotional Learning Specialist and discussed the programs she has already instituted throughout the school system.

Lynn Kwilasz honored

Prior to hearing their reports, board members and the audience viewed a video from Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials (IASBO), who virtually presented the John F. Young Lamplighter Award to Duneland School Assistant Superintendent/CFO Lynn Kwilasz for her leadership. The actual award will be presented in May 2021 at the IASBO meeting. Also receiving awards, as presented by Superintendent Chip Pettit, were Brandon Kroft who received a Commendable Level One award and members John Marshall and Red Stone received an exemplary award from the Indiana School Board Association. The board as a whole received a “commendable” recognition for 2019.

Thanks to John Marshall

Additionally, Kroft thanked retiring board member John Marshall for his 14 years of service to the board and noted that he has previously served as board president, ISBA Legislative Liaison for seven years, Legislative Representative ISBA Region 1 for four years, and ISBA Mentor School Board member for four years. In addition, he has attained ISBA Master School Board Member status twice. He has also served as an assistant coach for two years for the CHS Boys Track & Field and as a pool deck volunteer for CHS Boys and Girls Swimming for 12 years. He also served on the Duneland Education Foundation Board of Directors.

“I had the pleasure to work with former superintendent Dirk Baer and Dirk always said the Duneland Difference, as defined by him, was the people and that’s what I’m going to miss the most,” Marshall said. “I am really proud to have been given the opportunity to serve the Duneland community. I had the pleasure of working with some great board members over the years. I can’t tell you how close you all become when you work with the school board. We are truly a family.” He welcomed incoming board member Tim McGinty who will replace him in 2021. At the end of the meeting, board members offered thanks for Marshall’s service and Bob DeRuntz, of the Duneland Teachers Association, spoke from the audience floor to offer thanks on behalf of the association.

Congratulations to

Boys Soccer team

Earlier in the meeting, some 17 members of the Boys Soccer team, their coaches, parents, and siblings gathered to receive congratulations from the school board on winning their recent state championshipÑthe second state championship in three years. Members were welcomed on stage for a group photo and received fist bumps from members of the audience in celebration of their victory.

In other business, the board unanimously approved the 2021-2022 Duneland School Calendar. They also unanimously approved expanding the extension of the FFCRA, or the Cares Act to support sick employees, from January 1, 2021, through June 4, 2021. They additionally voted to close the 2020 Accounting Year, and approved a number of policies, mostly in accord with state legislative changes and requirements. In closing statements, Pettit announced that the window to make changes to the mode of delivery, either in-person or remote, for the third quarter of the 2020-2021 school year is now open until January 4.



Posted 12/8/2020




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