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CHESTERTON — The Duneland School Board has named Crown Point High School Principal Chip Pettit as its next superintendent.

The board unanimously approved a contract Monday morning for Pettit following a nearly seven-month-long search for its next leader.

"Chip is a consensus-builder who will take the best Duneland has to offer and bring our school community together to work for common higher goals," Duneland Board of Trustees President Brandon Kroft said. "We were impressed with his commitment to innovation and and his proven track record of collaboration to produce positive and tangible results for students."

Pettit is a Region native, graduating from Crown Point High School and Valparaiso University before earning his master's degree from Indiana University Northwest. He has served as principal of Crown Point High School for seven years, and before that worked as a teacher, middle school athletic director, dean of students and director of student services.

Under Pettit's leadership, Crown Point High School was named one of Newsweek's top public high schools and saw one-third of its students complete college credit before graduating high school. Pettit also coached three sports, including serving as Crown Point's head football coach for 11 years.

"I am honored and humbled to accept this role and to work with the nearly 5,900 students, their parents and guardians, the Duneland teachers, staff and community resident for a better Duneland School Corporation and a better Duneland community," Pettit said.

The incoming superintendent will be paid a base salary of $147,500, according to the board's approved contract.

Pettit will also be eligible for a stipend each year of his three-year contract based on an annual evaluation rating. If the superintendent is found to be "effective" by the end of the year, he may be paid $4,500 per year. If found "highly effective," the stipend will be $6,500 per year, according to the contract.

Pettit follows Ginger Bolinger, who retired from the Duneland School Corp. in December 2018 after 18 months with the district, citing family and health matters as her reason for leaving.

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Judy Malasto served as interim superintendent during the board's search for its next leader. She will return to her role as director of secondary learning and performance for Duneland Schools.

"I'm happy for working in the school district with him and I'm looking forward to the future," Malasto said.

In her nearly seven months as interim superintendent, Malasto led the district as it sought a continuation of its $41 million 2012 referendum funding instructional and support needs throughout the district. The referendum passed May 7 with "yes" votes outnumbering "no" to the tune of 3 to 1.

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"The support of the recent referendum by the Duneland community played a key role in my decision to accept this appointment as superintendent," Pettit said. "A community that supports the passage of the referendum is clearly one that places a high value on students and education."

Pettit is expected to complete a doctorate in educational leadership from Ball State University at the end of July. He will officially begin his role as superintendent July 1.

"We are please to welcome Chip Pettit to the Duneland School Corporation family," Kroft said. "He has demonstrated a passion for education kids and making a difference in the classroom, the boardroom and in the community. We have high standards in Duneland and feel we have superintendent who is committed to exceptional leadership.

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.