Valpo schools superintendent announces resignation
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent December 18, 2013 11:24PM
VALPARAISO — The man that the Valparaiso Community Schools board brought in to rescue the corporation financially resigned Wednesday.
Superintendent Mike Berta, who had already retired from the Portage Township Schools corporation, announced his resignation, effective at the end of his contract on Aug. 6.
The board brought Berta in August 2012 after Dr. Andrew Melin left and renewed his three-year contract for another year on July 23.
“He came in and really helped us reorganize finances so that we were running in the black,” board member Jim Sarkisian said.
In other news, the 1912 train depot that the Canadian National Railroad had planned to tear down could become part of the Valparaiso Community Schools system in July.
That depends on raising enough money to move it from it’s current position on Bush Street, just east of Calumet Avenue, to the Porter County Career and Technical Education building about two-and-a-half blocks northwest.
It will cost about $84,000 to move the building and $21,000 to put a new foundation under it, Career Center Director Jon Groth said at Wednesday’s Valparaiso Community Schools Board Meeting.
However, Indiana Landmarks stated it will provide a $50,000 low- or no-interest loan for the project, and other people have made pledges that can’t be made public yet.
Groth said he thinks raising money to move the 3,000 square foot building to the grassy area south of the center would become easier once the Canadian National agrees to the move and the school corporation is behind it.
“When they moved the depot down in North Judson, they were surprised by the number of international donors -- because they’re railroad enthusiasts (donating),” he said.
The railroad said it would shut down the tracks the second week in July for a move, but Groth said they can wait a year longer if they don’t raise enough money.
He also hopes to get about 100 community members involved in moving the bricks around the building before the actual move.
The career center would get dual use out of the depot, training for students renovating the building and more class space.
Students would get lead paint removal certification and training in gutting the building and installing modern electronic capabilities.
The railroad already altered the building, but the students would restore the exterior to how it used to look, and Indiana Landmarks doesn’t want to see the depot in a landfill.
Groth estimated it will take about $80,000 to $100,000 to renovate the building.
He hopes that the railroad would donate the $60,000 to $80,000 it would’ve used to demolish the building.
Local conservationist and preservationist Walt Breitinger said the depot is the last of three in the city.
One by Campbell Street and Indiana Avenue burned down, and the train station was demolished.
“The city would not be here if not for the railroads,” Breitinger said.