Valpo school district extends superintendent’s contract
By Diane Kubiak Post-Tribiune correspondent December 19, 2012 12:08AM
Updated: December 20, 2012 9:17PM
VALPARAISO — Superintendent Mike Berta received a one-year extension on his contract to lead Valparaiso Community Schools. He will continue to lead through June 2014 under the terms of his previous contract and with the same $155,000 12-month salary.
“It’s a special moment when the right person comes along at the right time,” board member Jim Jorgensen said.
The former superintendent of Portage Township Schools, Berta came out of retirement to serve as an interim superintendent in Valparaiso shortly after Andrew Melin resigned amid budget controversies.
Board president Mark Maassel praised Berta’s leadership and his ability to build consensus and bring people together.
Berta instituted monthly discussions with the community in an attempt to understand the nature of a 21st century learner. That conversation will continue at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Administration Building. Understanding today’s learner better will help inform future decisions, Berta has said.
The board also approved Todd Van Keppel as new director of building and grounds. Van Keppel replaces Joe Hickman, who retired six weeks ago.
Board attorney Dave Hollenbeck was given permission to firm up the contract between the district and Statewide Credit, an agency that will take over the collection of unpaid book rental, uniform fees, missing school books and fundraising shortfalls from district parents. Those collections will begin in January.
Board member Jim Sarkisian asked CFO Sharon Qualkenbush if the district will be in the black by the end of the year.
Qualkenbush said 50 percent of the levy has been received and she expects enough will soon be collected to get the general fund out of the red by the end of the year but asked for approval to make temporary interfund transfers “just in case.”
The board approved that and gave permission for her to close the 2012 books and make routine transfers within funds, too.
The board also gave Jon Groth, principal of the Career Center, permission to study the feasibility of moving the 1912 Canadian Railroad depot on Calumet Avenue west to the Career Center property for use as a historical restoration and reutilization project for the building trades classes. The 3,000-square-foot structure would otherwise be demolished.
Architect Brett Wagner said the building is in excellent shape and has historical status.
The board also honored the Central Elementary Spell Bowl Team for its first-place finish in the state in the “Red” school size category.
It also commended Flint Lake art club student “curators” for their first-place win at the Winter Lights Festival at Sunset Hill Park. The students created a large, paper mache snowman for the event.