Northeast Dubois school configurations approved


DUBOIS — With the closing of Celestine Elementary School imminent, the future landing spots of young children throughout the Northeast Dubois County School Corporation were approved at the district’s school board meeting on Tuesday night.

At the beginning of the 2020-21 school year, all pre-K through second-grade students will attend classes at what is now Dubois Elementary School. All third- through sixth-graders will study at the current Dubois Middle School.

The corporation previously announced that seventh- through 12th-grade classrooms will be housed in the Northeast Dubois High School building. Celestine Elementary is property of the St. Isidore Parish — which is part of the Catholic Diocese of Evansville — and discussions about its future use will begin after the school year ends.

“We wanted to try to even out the amount of kids in each building as best we could,” explained Northeast Dubois Superintendent Bill Hochgesang.

He acknowledged that moving the seventh and eighth grade to the high school building would increase its population, but said it was important for leadership to keep grade level teams working together within the reconfigured spaces.

“Mainly, our focus was about utilizing the space we have,” Hochgesang said. “And getting our grade level teams together.”

Due to the impending grade level shifts, Hochgesang said the district will look into potentially changing the names of all three school buildings. He said that “very few” teachers will remain in their same rooms at the current elementary and middle schools with the impending changes.

Hochgesang noted that moving more classes into the middle school building could have been considered, but said “we didn’t want to crowd space at this point.”

Potential low-cost facility changes at the current middle school include dividing the family and consumer sciences room and turning it into a special education area, as well as removing a locker bay room and repurposing it into a utility space, such as a reading or testing room. Playground equipment will also need to be added to the grounds.

“We think there will be very limited work to be done at Dubois Elementary and Dubois Middle School to get those grade configurations in there,” Hochgesang said.

Northeast Dubois could soon begin a major remodeling process at the current high school. That work is estimated to cost $3.6 million, and bids for the project will be opened at a special meeting at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the corporation office, which is located at 5379 Main St. in Dubois.

By the time school starts next year, Hochgesang expects things to look “pretty nicely” across the district.

“I think we tried to do the least amount of movement that we could,” he said of the board’s reconfiguration decision. “And I think, for student learning, we’ve made some decisions that will be very impactful for them.”

The school board also:

• Held a teacher compensation hearing to discuss the tentative teacher collective bargaining agreement. No comments were made.

• Approved the 2020 capital projects budget and bus replacement funds.

• Approved a field trip that will take AP art students to the Louisville Speed Art Museum. Also approved a Dubois Middle School lock-in for seventh and eighth grade leadership students.

• Approved a list of fundraisers that will take place at each corporation school during the 2019-20 school year.

• Approved a performance day on Wednesday, Oct. 2, to train all corporation staff members for ALICE active shooter response training — an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — as well as other required trainings. Classes have been canceled on that day and corporation students will not attend school.

• Approved hiring Susan DeWitte as a special education assistant at Dubois Middle School.

• Approved the teacher evaluation system that will be used during the 2019-20 school year.

• Approved paying a $500 stipend to Brenda Ferguson for her work with Tara Rasche during the transition of leadership in July at Dubois and Celestine elementaries.

• Congratulated Superintendent Bill Hochgesang for being named the 2020 Superintendent of the Year for District VII by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents.

• Scheduled the bid opening for the upcoming Northeast Dubois High School renovation project. The opening will take place at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 8, at the corporation office, 5379 Main St., in Dubois.

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