CHESTERTON | The five members of the Duneland School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to approve a $16,000 increase in pay for incoming superintendent David Pruis.
School Board President Mike Trout said the vote was a “slam dunk.”
“There were no public comments and it was a 5-0 vote. There was an opportunity for people to speak in the audience and no one did. Since we all knew what we were doing, it was a slam dunk,” Trout said.
The reason for the unanimous vote, said Trout, came as a result of a meeting with experts during their search for a new superintendent after long-time superintendent Dr. Dirk Baer announced his retirement earlier this year.
Trout said, “We have been underpaying our superintendent for some time and we knew one day it was going to be sticker shock. When we talked with Mike Adamson from the Indiana School Board Association and Dr. Robert Boyd from Indiana State University during two meetings, each had told us that the current pay was lower than what should be expected. We should expect to pay $150,000 to $175,000 to get a quality person. We thought Dr. Pruis was the right person and we should pay what the person deserves.”
Pruis’s salary will increase from $128,906 to $145,000 plus benefits which caused some comments during an April 4 public meeting, namely from Michele Bartels, a co-president of the Duneland Teachers Association and a German teacher at Chesterton High School.
Bartels said she was against the 12.5 percent increase in salary, not because Pruis wasn’t a good fit for the job, but because the community just narrowly passed a tax increase through a referendum vote in order to maintain the general fund.
She said that teachers had not seen a pay increase in many years and that the ratio of teacher to student continues to become more stratified.
Trout said that despite these concerns, the school board felt an increase was the right move.
“We’re still lower than most school corporations in the area, those with comparable performance—Valpo, Crown Point, Munster. We are still below those,” said Trout.