In the general election on Nov. 6, incumbent Nick J. Jurasevich will defend
his Jackson Township seat on the Duneland School Board against Kristen S.
Kroeger. Early voting begins on Tuesday, Oct. 9.
All seats on the Duneland School Board are non-partisan and all voters cast
ballots in each School Board race.
The Chesterton Tribune invited both to respond to candidate
The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for
(1) Age, place of residence, occupation.
Jurasevich: 64, Jackson Township, customer service manager.
Kroeger: 40, Jackson Township, small business owner—management
(2) To Jurasevich: Why are you seeking reelection to the Duneland School
Board? (50 words) I am currently serving on the Duneland School Board,
serving since 2002. I have been past president twice. I have a Bachelor of
Science degree in business administration and management from Indiana
University-Northwest graduating with honors. I feel I bring integrity,
leadership, honesty, and approachability to this position.
To Kroeger: What are your qualifications for service on the Duneland School
Board? (50 words) I’ve spent 20 years helping financial institutions
rethink how things are done and implement changes to improve services while
maximizing resources. I understand complex financial scenarios, how to make
difficult decisions, overcome resistance, build consensus, and communicate
clearly. I confidently bring new energy and a valuable perspective to the
(3) Why have you decided to run for the board? (75 words)
Jurasevich: I seek reelection to continue to give back to the Duneland
community. Since becoming a board member I have seen various challenges and
celebrated in numerous student successes. I seek reelection to continue to
live up to the community’s expectations in meeting future challenges and
continuing to support and further the many successes. I am a firm believer
of “Kids First” and in seeking reelection I will never lose sight of this
Kroeger: Our schools and community are best served when working
together. One will not remain vibrant without the other. The referendum left
this community divided on whether or not to invest in our schools. Seeing
this division in our great community was a call to action for me. I’m
passionate about the quality of education in Duneland and devoted to our
community. I know I can make a difference with thoughtful leadership and a
(4) What specific priorities would you propose for action by the board? (75
Jurasevich: Board priorities would include to identify and support all
initiatives, resources, and programs which improve student achievement,
improve two-way communications between School Corporation and the community,
to be fiscally responsible in light of increased state mandated programs and
policies without the additional funding to support these mandates, continue
to assure a safe school environment, and to review current policies for
effectiveness and stature compliance.
Kroeger: The board should chair a community action committee to petition
for legislative reform in school funding, ensuring it’s at the proper levels
long term. Next, the board should develop a strategy to enrich its
relationship with our community. Additionally, there should be a
well-defined, multi-year vision for the corporation. This vision should be
innovative and outline the most effective use of resources while keeping
class sizes small and investing in our teachers’ training.
(5) Evaluate the record of the Duneland School Corporation’s administration.
Jurasevich: I think the administration has been generally effective in
its role: perfect no, effective yes. Their effectiveness has been seen in
student achievement success, outstanding academic, athletic, music, and arts
programs, the ability to work with decreased state funding with a minimum of
student program cuts, and the safe and well maintained facilities that we as
a community are proud to have. Perhaps the most room for improvement is open
communication between administration and community.
Kroeger: These last four years have been difficult for every business,
organization, and household. Each of us has had to make decisions to get by
with less. The administration has done a commendable job in finding ways to
save money, largely without impacting students and teachers. The challenge
is to continue to look at how things are done and improve them in order to
have enough resources to invest in our teachers and students.
(6) How would you encourage interaction between the school corporation and
the community—taxpayers and parents? Do you support a public-comment item on
the monthly School Board meeting agenda? (75 words)
Jurasevich: I would encourage making school facilities available for
community educational, recreational, and social activities. I would ask
parents/community members to serve on committees. I would solicit the
support and involvement of community constituencies for involvement. I would
support school officials to participate at community organizations and
events. I would encourage the school corporation to use effective open,
dialogue with the community members. I do support a public-comment item on
the School Board agenda.
Kroeger: The board should foster its relationship with our community
through a proactive approach in defining and sharing the board’s goals and
challenges. In my experience, it’s easier to understand the decisions being
made, if the public sees the intended path. To build understanding, the
board should conduct a public discussion meeting prior to the regular voting
meeting. Open discussions provide insight to the public of the board’s
(7) How transparent should the use of the school referendum money be? Should
the Citizen Review Committee meetings be open to the public? (75 words)
Jurasevich: The use of school referendum money should be very
transparent to the community. This would serve as one more way in which to
encourage interaction and understanding between the community and the school
corporation. Further, it would show the community how and where such public
money will be spent. It is for these reasons that I believe the Citizen
Review Committee meetings should be open to the public.
Kroeger: The Referendum Fund should be treated like every other school
fund, with the budget reviewed and presented at a public hearing. The
Citizen Review Committee is a tool that the administration is using to
generate and validate ideas. The results of these discussions are ultimately
presented at the public board meetings through budget discussions. I am
encouraged that the administration has embraced this process. It shows a
willingness to consider alternative ideas.
(8) Do you approve of the specific Duneland budget cuts since the state’s
funding formula was changed in 2008? (75 words)
Jurasevich: I do generally approve of the budget cuts made. The
reductions were made with the vision and purpose to keep most current
student programs in place and to avoid reducing or eliminating any program
or resource which might have an adverse effect on student achievement and
growth at a time of state funding distress. The hope is that these budget
cuts can be revisited, evaluated, and restored in the near future.
Kroeger: The administration has done a satisfactory job, but we cannot
stop there. Improvement necessitates a continuous and critical evaluation of
how we do things. We need to ask ourselves, “Is there a different way of
doing this?” We also need to evaluate our decisions. “Did we get the results
we wanted?” Continued progress requires a commitment to self-evaluation and
meaningful review. As a board member, I will insist on critical examination
(9) With the money from the referendum, should the schools work to restore
positions and programs which have already been cut? (75 words)
Jurasevich: Yes, with prudent review the schools should work to restore
positions and programs previously cut. Class size, I believe, should be
small, resources which raise student achievement, including professional
growth, should be identified and expanded, and the reduction in paid work
hours as well as the elimination of health benefits in some employee groups
should be revisited and restored.
a parent of two children in Duneland schools, I have witnessed class sizes
growing larger, the availability of classroom aides diminish, and the
district’s average test scores worsen. These are all negative trends. The
Referendum Fund should be used to reverse these trends, as promised in the
campaign. In addition to restoring conventional staffing, we should look for
new and innovative ways to elevate the quality of education. We should look
forward, not back.