Porter Township schools may buck trend, hire teachers
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent February 21, 2013 9:20PM
Updated: February 22, 2013 10:39PM
VALPARAISO — Porter Township School Corp. is considering hiring teachers when many other districts are laying them off.
What positions the teachers could be hired for depends on both kindergarten enrollment for the coming year and a staff evaluation to see where teachers are needed.
Superintendent Stacey Schmidt announced the possible hirings at Thursday’s school board meeting while reviewing the general fund budget.
“I’m looking at two,” Schmidt said after the meeting.
One reason is an increased general fund, of which 85 percent goes towards salaries and benefits.
Indiana has funded schools’ general funds by sales taxes instead of local property taxes since 2008, which hurt schools when the economy took a downturn.
For 2012, the Porter Township district received $8.64 million, but this year it’s $9.32 million.
However, the state lowered the district’s capital projects fund to $1.25 million from what the school advertised, $2.4 million.
Schmidt also credited what happened in the schools before she arrived.
“We’re in great financial shape because the district made cuts that they needed to,” she said. “Now we’re looking at rebuilding again.”
About 2010, Boone Grove High School cut staff and electives while increasing class size.
Teachers and administrators took pay cuts, and other staff members received no raises.
Also at Thursday’s school board meeting, the board members heard plans to spend the remaining money from the more than $2 million improvements on maintenance needs that had been set aside for more pressing work.
Derek Anderson of Skillman Corp. contractors said, “The bids came in so low, there’s a lot more we can do.”
Schmidt said about $750,000 is left, and most of that will pay for maintenance like a new boiler in the high school, replacement of Boone Grove Middle School cafeteria ceiling tiles and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades to high school doors and walkways.
However, the school is also bidding for a new soccer field just south of the old one. Kyle Miller of Schmidt Associates, the architecture consultants, said it’s about the same cost to build a new one as it is to renovate the old, and neither could be used before 2014.