Transfer students welcomed in Munster; board names new superintendent

2014-05-12T21:49:00Z 2014-05-13T08:16:07Z Transfer students welcomed in Munster; board names new superintendentLU ANN FRANKLIN Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 12, 2014 9:49 pm  • 

MUNSTER | The 200 transfer students currently enrolled in the School Town of Munster will continue to be welcomed for the 2014-15 school year.

At Monday’s Munster School Board meeting, retiring Superintendent Richard Sopko told the dozens of audience members that he stands by that policy.

“This is not a new policy,” Sopko said prior to the School Board vote that approved the policy.

Transfer students must maintain a B average and not have any disciplinary problems on their records, he said.

Students’ families pay between $2,000 and $2,700 per academic year to attend Munster schools, Sopko said.

“It has been said that these students should pay more to attend Munster schools,” he said. “In short, this is not a good policy. … We have room for these students and they are welcome.”

The policy will be reviewed in another year, Sopko said.

The discussion was prompted by a new Indiana statute, House Enrolled Act 1079, which was sponsored by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, and state Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville.

The state law allows school corporations that last year barred new, out-of-district transfer students to now enroll “a member of the household in which any other member of the household was a transfer student who attended a school corporation during the 2012-13 school year." It passed 76-12.

State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, voted no. At the time she said schools shouldn’t be forced to take even more transfer students just to help the parents of current students get all their children at one school.

“If you want to go to Munster schools, you should pay the additional taxes,” she said.

As a parent of Munster students, Candelaria Reardon spoke at the School Board meeting, noting the concerns expressed by some of her constituents. These include the following:

• What metric will be used to determine if we have space in our schools for transfer students?

• Has the School Board, since the state reduced the amount of money per pupil, revisited the student-teacher ratio?

• Does the board have a plan to increase tuition charged to equalize the costs of Munster residents who are paying more to fund our schools after the approval of the referendum?

• Will any agreement entered into by this body with private schools be made public and open for discussion before it is voted on?

“How can we work together to address the concerns raised by the residents we have been elected to represent?” she asked the board.

After the meeting, she continued to press board members for clarifications about the policy.

In other business, the Munster School Board approved a three-year contract for the new Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Hendrix.

His salary will be $155,000 a year, School Board President Judith Florczak said.

Hendrix comes to Munster from the Sunman-Dearborn Community School Corp. in St. Leon, Ind., where he has been superintendent since 2009.

Earlier in his career, Hendrix was an assistant principal at the School Town of Highland.

He will begin his new job July 1.

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