Valpo schools ready to pay debt to teachers union
By James D. Wolf Jr. Post-Tribune correspondent July 10, 2014 11:20PM
Updated: July 13, 2014 2:02AM
VALPARAISO — The school district has become financially stable enough to begin paying a debt to its teachers union.
Valparaiso Community Schools owes the Health Insurance fund $268,269 dating to December 2011, when the Valparaiso Teachers’ Association agreed to let the district defer payments because of the financial crisis.
The state’s switch from property taxes to sales taxes to finance school general funds caused a shortfall.
On Thursday, Superintendent Mike Berta, who is leaving in August, presented a plan to pay what’s owed.
The district would make 13 payments of $20,000 and a final payment of $8,269, Berta said at the school board discussion meeting.
Repayment would begin this month; however, should financial problems occur again, this could be revisited.
Although some board members favored passing the measure rather than waiting for next week’s formal meeting, board president Mark Maassel didn’t put it up for a vote.
Maassel said votes don’t usually happen at discussion meetings, and he preferred giving the decision time.
“Let people noodle on it,” he said.
Superintendent Ric Frataccia, who started this month, said he preferred Berta sign the agreement before he retires.
“I would feel like an interloper,” Frataccia said.
Also at the meeting, the board voted in favor of a spending $251,171 to update the roughly eight “closets” that house the high school information technology system.
Director of Technology Bill Moran said the last update was in 1990, so even the fiber optics are outdated and the closets need proper ventilation.
Maassel said the board wanted to ensure the work will be done before school starts.
The closets also house the school alarm and ventilation systems.
The district will use $100,000 from a Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission grant and $151,171 from the recent deferred maintenance bond.
Other matters discussed for a possible vote at the next meeting include new language in the district’s bullying policy that prohibits retaliation on reporters and witnesses and a technology acceptable-use policy that staff, students and parents will have to sign to use school technology and systems.