Northeast Dubois to cut staff for next school year


DUBOIS — Northeast Dubois Schools Superintendent Bill Hochgesang received school board approval Tuesday at the corporation’s monthly board meeting for plans that are estimated to save the corporation $88,000 during the 2017-18 school year.

The forthcoming changes will include the elimination of a full-time Northeast Dubois High School teaching position; reduction of the position of director of school improvement, assessment and technology to a part-time position; and the elimination of two aide positions at Dubois Elementary, while increasing the responsibility of a current aide with a teaching license to teach classes for two hours a day.

The corporation will also make the school social worker a full-time position in order to accept a $10,000 grant from the Dubois County Community Foundation.

Changes also include moving the Dubois Middle School schedule from block scheduling to an eight-period design that more closely matches the high school in order to share staff with other corporation schools.

“It’s a shame, because we want to try to do what’s best for children, but the money only goes so far,” Hochgesang said after the meeting. “So you’ve got to do what’s best for children with the money you’ve got, and that’s the bottom line. It’s about finding that balance.”

Hochgesang explained that staffing is dictated by enrollment, but did not comment on the specific teaching position that will be eliminated at the high school. He added that the corporation has eliminated the need for the aides at the elementary by making changes to the preschool that accommodate parents and improve efficiency, noting that the number of students in the corporation’s preschool sessions is projected to be smaller next year.

Hochgesang also led a presentation detailing what, specifically, the money the corporation receives from the seven-year property tax referendum will fund. The referendum called for a tax increase of 18 cents per $100 of assessed value for property owners in Hall, Columbia, Harbison and Marion townships. Property tax payments were due on May 10.

Hochgesang said the corporation will net about $560,000 total from the referendum.

Around $320,000 will go to paying the state-mandated retirement costs of all employees. In the past, these were paid for out of the corporation’s rainy day fund.

The cost of paying all extracurricular salaries — which total about $175,000 — will also be covered by the referendum. The remaining $70,000 will pay for the salary, retirement and benefits of the corporation’s full-time preschool teacher.

Hochgesang also spoke on several possibilities as to how the corporation can work to ensure its livelihood after referendum dollars stop coming in seven years from now.

One possibility he mentioned is combining classes when numbers are low enough. For example, the corporation currently has more than 50 second-graders between Dubois and Celestine elementaries. Hochgesang recommended that Dubois Elementary move from three to two fourth-grade classes when those second-graders reach fourth grade at the school.

The board did not move on the matter at last night’s meeting. Members will meet next at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 13 at the corporation office, 5379 E. Main St., Dubois.

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