In the general
election on Tuesday, Nov. 6, incumbent Duneland School board member Ronald
“Red” Stone will face a challenge from Brian Custy for the DSB’s Liberty
Township seat. The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to
set word limits for each question and reserved the right to edit for length.
(1) For Stone: Age,
place of residence, occupation.
44 years old,
Valparaiso, Vice-president of Metropolitan Steel Inc.
For Custy: Age,
place of residence, occupation.
(2) For Stone: Why
are you seeking re-election to the Duneland School Board? (75 words)
I am seeking
re-election because I truly love being involved in my community and making a
difference in kids’ lives. I feel I provide leadership, honesty, integrity
and provide value as a board member.
For Custy: Why are
you seeking election to the Duneland School Board? (75 words)
I worry about my
own kids and their peers. I’ve become more involved in the community in
recent years and have coached my sons’ sports teams and mentored other
children. Being a member of the school board, however, would allow me to
make a broader positive impact on more children and our community. The
school board sets policy that impacts our children and their futures on a
(3) For Stone: What
specific skill sets have you brought to the position? (75 words)
stakeholders (students, teachers, and community members) in an ongoing
dialogue about the state of our schools. I am a people person who brings a
commonsense approach to problem solving and who listens to all sides of an
issue. I am willing to make tough decisions to bring about positive change.
I am not willing to settle for mediocrity.
For Custy: What
specific skill sets would you bring to the position? (75 words)
I was a
student-athlete and earned a degree in civil engineering at VU before law
school. I also worked for one of the largest law firms in the world and one
of Indiana’s most successful businessmen before starting my own practice.
However, the skills
that I feel are most important are work ethic and ability to have honest and
respectful conversations with others. Open communication will go far in our
schools and community.
(4) For Stone: What
priorities would you pursue if re-elected? (100 words)
My goals, as well
as the School Board, are as follows: continue to improve student success,
retain highly qualified staff, support implementation of STEM programs and
college readiness, develop culture of efficiency and effectiveness, and
support a collaborative environment.
For Custy: What
priorities would you pursue if elected? (100 words)
I’d solidify the
environments that our children learn in. First, our children need to be safe
from external and internal physical threats as well as distraction. Next, we
need to strengthen the rights of teachers and empower them to do their
calling with personal discretion. The aim should be to attract, train and
retain exceptional teachers for the long term. Decisions from the school
board and administration must always take into account their impact on
children. Finally, technological advancement should be moderated to ensure
we are helping children to be well rounded through socialization, activity,
reading and writing.
supplemental property-tax rate approved referendum in 2012-which took effect
in 2013 and levied an additional rate of up to 22 cents per $100 of assessed
valuation on property owners’ tax bills-will expire in 2019 and the current
School Board is exploring the possibility of setting a new referendum next
year. Would you support such a referendum? Why or why not? (75 words)
Stone: I am in
support of the referendum that allows the continuation of the many programs
offered to our students that makes Duneland “unique.” The referendum
provides additional support to fund teachers, nurses, counselors, tech
integration specialists, along with other positions. The people of our
community deserve a top-notch school system, and the referendum provides the
dollars to do that.
Custy: I will
ensure that tax dollars are spent with intention and each expenditure has a
positive impact on our children. Tax referendums should not be business as
usual. I am in favor of a referendum only if it is impossible to operate our
schools optimally without it.
That said, there
must be 100% candid communication with the public. I won’t permit voters to
be under-informed regarding their money and the school board’s intentions.
(6) Do you support
1:1 e-learning days--on four of which, in academic year 2018-19, K-12
students will not actually attend school but work on their devices from
home--and the gradual phasing out of print materials? Why or why not? (75
Stone: I would
like to see Duneland use e-learning days for inclement weather and NOT use
them for a regular instructional day. A computer cannot replace a licensed
teacher. I believe students being at school with their teachers and peers is
where students get the best education. We can find alternate ways for
teachers to get professional development training.
Custy: I oppose
the current 1:1 e-learning days and phasing out books. I believe excessive
technology and “screen time” hinders human interaction and negatively
should be balanced to ensure children are engaged in active traditional
learning. I believe e-learning days should have been phased in instead of
having six days in the first year. Moreover, the e-learning days stress
working families who must make arrangements for their children.
(7) The School
Board has promised to address, early in 2019, the question of whether
Duneland Schools should continue to accept out-of-district transfer students
and the transfer student policy in general. Are you in favor of accepting
transfer students? Why or why not? (75 words)
Stone: I am in
favor of closing the open enrollment policy. Duneland has approximately 318
transfer students. We receive approximately $5,800 per transfer student.
Duneland spends approximately $9,200 per student district-wide. The
difference is made up by the local taxpayer. If I am re-elected, this policy
issue will be discussed and voted on in January or February 2019.
than 5% of Duneland students come from outside the district and bring
roughly $1,800,000 in state revenue. The school board has delayed addressing
the current open policy since July. I support open enrollment to a limit
established by the school board prior to each school year. That limit needs
to be based on the input of taxpayers, teachers, principals, the CFO and the
superintendent. See my Facebook page Custy4Dunelandschoolboard for more.
legislation, HEA 1009 and HEA 1167, mandates that Indiana public schools
must consolidate their various funds based on whether expenses directly
impact students or directly impact operations. Duneland CFO Lynn Kwilasz has
said that four currently distinct funds must be consolidated into two (while
the debt-service and referendum funds will remain separate). What financial
moves do you think the School Board could take to field these new budget
requirements? (75 words)
Stone: The new
legislation will not affect Duneland negatively. In fact, it will provide
some flexibility and local control over our financial resources. We are
fortunate to have one of the best CFOs in the state. Our School Board will
continue to make sure we are funding both education and operations
intent is to give districts more flexibility with the use of funds.
Previously, there were fund buckets for debt service, capital projects,
transportation, bus replacement and the referendum fund. Now those funding
buckets will be consolidated into education and operations funds. I’m
confident the existing CFO will ensure compliance based on the August 20
school board meeting I attended. I would also ensure internal controls are
established on behalf of taxpayers.
(9) In March,
students who participated in a school walkout to protest gun violence and to
honor the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in
Florida were marked truant and assigned an “alternative discipline” that
included writing a short essay or completing half an hour of community
service. What are your thoughts on the administration’s response to the
walkout? (75 words)
administration presented our students with an opportunity to voice their
concerns over gun violence at a forum in place of a walk out. Because of
this forum, we had very few students walk out. Those who chose to were
respectful and returned to class afterwards, but Duneland is responsible for
the safety of our children and could not condone the walkout. I thought the
administration’s response was appropriate.
Custy: I’m for
standing up for your beliefs as well as consequences of doing so. That is an
American core value. Here, the Superintendent informed the students of the
punishment before their walk-out, so they knew the penalty. Our
Superintendent said “[w]e want to respect and value students’ opinions and
thoughts but at the same time it’s our responsibility to maintain a safe
community in which students may learn.” I agree. Good job to all.