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Moffett and McGinty vie for at-large Duneland School Board seat

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By LILY REX

In the general election Tuesday, Nov. 3, Tim McGinty and Monte Moffett will compete for a nonpartisan At-Large seat on the Duneland School Board.

The Chesterton Tribune invited both to participate in a candidate questionnaire. The Tribune set word limits and reserved the right to edit for length.

1) Age, place of residence, occupation.

McGinty: 65, Liberty Township, Retired educator

Moffett: 64, Porter, Retired assistant superintendent for the Duneland Community Schools

2) Why are you seeking election to the Duneland School Board? (75 words)

McGinty: I have spent nearly my entire adult life serving Duneland and our community’s youth. I have done this through teaching, mentoring, coaching, community service and as a school administrator. Being a member of the Duneland School Board would give me a new avenue by which I can continue to serve our community. I know that my lifelong commitment to Duneland and its kids make me the best candidate for this position.

Moffett: With all the current and future challenges taking place, I would like to be in a leadership position to use my education and 17-years’ experience to assist the school corporation and ultimately our students. I believe that the State of Indiana will reduce school funding due to the current economic situation similar to the several million dollar reduction during the “Great Recession. My experience and knowledge with school finance will be of great benefit.

3) What specific skill sets would you bring to the position? (100 words)

McGinty: I have the ability to not only hear what people have to say but to truly listen to their voices and concerns. I have a strong work ethic and will seek out all available information before making decisions. My ability to lead others through the development and implementation of curriculum is a strength. I believe that leadership and teamwork is about working with others and for others. The endorsement by I-PACE is an endorsement of my skills to lead and encourage others in a trustworthy and respectful way.

Moffett: In my 41 years as an educator I have been a teacher and head basketball coach, athletic director, assistant principal, HS principal and assistant superintendent. In my 17 years as Assistant Superintendent, I was responsible for all aspects of the corporation other than development of the budget. Some of my major responsibilities and experiences were: curriculum, instruction, assessment, accreditation, employee hiring, discipline and discharge, educational law and policy, contracts, human resources, employee benefits, negotiations, and operations. My 17 years in a major leadership position gives me knowledge and experience as a decision-maker for the entire Duneland School Community.

4) What priorities would you pursue if elected? (75 words)

McGinty: As a school board member, I will help form policy that supports the needs of our community, our teachers, and primarily our students. My number one priority is always to provide our students with a quality education. I will listen to all stakeholders and make well informed decisions. It is also imperative that we form policy that will help to guide the Duneland Schools through challenging economic times.

Moffett: To always put students first in the decisions I make. To listen to parents, students, teachers, staff, and concerned citizens and use their input to guide my decisions. To be fiscally responsible, always look for value in school expenditures, and be tax neutral. To meet the academic needs of all students. To be innovative and intentional in our curriculum so all students receive the education they need for their post-graduation plan.

5) Differentiate yourself from your opponent and indicate why in particular you believe yourself to be the better candidate. (100 words)

McGinty: This is the community where I grew up and attended school. I spent 24 years serving the youth in Duneland. On recommendation of the Duneland Teachers Association, I was endorsed by I-PACE. I could not be prouder to have the support of the Duneland Teachers Association because they are at the heart of what we do so well in Duneland. I am a trusted community member and tested leader. My commonsense decision making and collaborative mindset, strong work ethic, and positive community relationships that I have developed throughout my life will be strengths that I will bring to the board.

Moffett: Like my opponent I’m a longtime educator, teacher, and administrator who loves kids, but what differentiates us is my education and experience. As assistant superintendent I was in charge of curriculum, instruction, HR, and operations, but what really separates me is the knowledge and experience I gained as a leader. As we continue with the pandemic, we don’t know what challenges we will face such as an anticipated budget shortfall. I was in a leadership position responsible for navigating the challenging issues that faced DSC. I believe leadership experience makes a difference.

6) How do you think the Duneland School Corporation has performed in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic? Explain. (75 words)

McGinty: I think that administration has handled the situation well. A survey of all stakeholders communicated to the administration the concerns and desires of the community. Almost daily communication with the Porter County Health Department has given them expert advice on how to react to situations. The administration devised a plan to best accommodate all the concerns and needs of stakeholders and continues to communicate and be transparent on matters relating to COVID-19.

Moffett: The first responsibility is to offer a DSC quality education in a healthy and safe manner. Experts say to open schools safely you must follow three key things: mandatory masks, social distancing, the ability to test and contact trace. I’m a supporter of the hybrid plan because it allows for social distancing. This along with mandatory masks and the contact tracing and quarantining has allowed students and staff to attend school safely.

7) If elected, how would you use your position to ensure the safety of Duneland Schools students and employees in the midst of the pandemic? (75 words)

McGinty: I will work closely with the administration to ensure that our students and staff are safe. I will support all reasonable measures that the administration, staff, support staff, and health department pursue to keep our kids and teachers as safe as possible, including emotionally, mentally, physically, and socially. We must continue to be diligent and intentional with safety precautions.

Moffett: Seek input and listen to all key stakeholders groups. Combining their input with advice from national, state, and local experts should guide our decisions. The next key component is communicating our decisions to the key stakeholders and community in general. As a Board Member, I will use my relationships and position to influence state and national office holders to ensure that schools have all the necessary resources to keep our employees and students safe.

8) In 2019, Duneland voters overwhelmingly voted to allow the Duneland Schools to continue collecting from Duneland property owners a supplemental property tax rate of up to 22 cents per $100 of assessed valuation via referendum. Explain why you do or don’t support the referendum, and where you believe referendum funds are best used. (100 words)

McGinty: I supported the referendum because we need to be able to hire and retain highly-qualified staff as well as continue to offer a wide range of programs for our students. The referendum provides for smaller class sizes and support personnel for struggling students. Funds should always be allocated to people and programming that most directly affects our students. In the end, the referendum benefits the students in our community, and that is what matters most.

Moffett: When the state cut funding during the Great Recession, I was one of the people responsible for digging us out of the shortfall. The state cut DSC funding by about $5.5 million. This money has never been replaced in the budget. As a result we proposed the first referendum in order to maintain people and programs. The referendum continues to be important to maintain programs and the personnel to support them. The area that we have fallen short on is communicating to the public where the money was used. Improving transparency and communication will be a priority.

9) The Duneland School Corporation was closed to out-of-district transfer students in a 2019 decision that attracted lots pf public input, both for and against. Do you believe Duneland should remain closed to transfer students? Explain why or why not. (100 words)

McGinty: Yes, I believe Duneland should remain a closed system. There are positives to opening the school district, but I believe our first obligation should be to the students who live here and support our community.

Moffett: NO. At my core, as a public school advocate I want all children --despite where they live, their economic conditions, or their home lives-- to receive a high quality education in a physically and emotionally safe and caring environment. Duneland Schools cannot provide this to every student, but there are some that we can help, and I know from experience that we have made a difference in these children’s lives. Not to the detriment of any Duneland student, I believe, we as a community can offer these opportunities and make a difference in some students’ lives.

10) COVID-19 is a crisis the likes of which our nation hasn’t seen in over a century--since the 1918 influenza epidemic. What experiences or qualities make you fit to lead in a time of crisis? (125 words)

McGinty: Great leaders do not change who they are or how they make decisions because of a crisis. I believe that my military experience and years as a school principal help me in this area. Decisions should be made based on research, trust, listening to stakeholders, working as a group, and being transparent. I believe that I have the support of teachers because they have seen my leadership skills firsthand. One of my strengths is bringing people with divergent views together to accomplish a common goal.

Moffett: In 2011 I was responsible for writing DSC’s first pandemic plan. At that time we were not 1 to 1 in technology, but it did demonstrate a need to move in that direction. It was clear in the guidance by the CDC that our major responsibility was student and staff safety. One of my degrees is in Health Education, so I do have background in the science required. Though we have not had a pandemic in the past, I do have experience in making environmental and safety decisions that affect the entire district. (water and air quality, Legionnaires Disease, flu and communicable diseases, inclement weather, tornados, school lockdowns, mercury contamination, 9-11). I am currently taking a course at Johns Hopkins University in contact tracing.

11) Many in the community talk about Duneland Schools exemplifying the ‘Duneland Difference.’ Explain what the ‘Duneland Difference’ means to you and how you would work to advance and uphold it as a member of the school board. (125 words)

McGinty: The ‘Duneland Difference’ is not one thing but more of an assortment of things that we do that create a climate of shared success. Duneland has great families, great kids, and a supportive community. Duneland has some of the best teachers around, and hiring and retaining quality staff is important. We also need to ensure that teachers have the professional development opportunities to improve their skills, which will further enhance student achievement. Duneland has always had a ‘Kids First’ attitude, and that must continue by offering quality programming and extracurriculars. Cordial collaboration between the union and administration is important. As a board, we must continue to hire central office personnel who understand what our ‘Duneland Difference’ is and will provide the leadership to maintain it.

Moffett: To me the “Duneland Difference” is people! All great schools have three common characteristics: first, quality parents who are engaged, respectful, patient, encouraging and supportive. Second, prepared students who are motivated, disciplined, respectful, responsible, engaged, hardworking and caring. Third, high quality teachers, administrators and staff who are strong communicators, listen well, engaging, patient, knowledgeable, dedicated, hardworking, empathetic, caring and life-long learners. The “Duneland Difference” is that we have all three. It is imperative that DSC continue to hire high quality teachers, administrators, and staff who display these characteristics. As a School Board member, I will look to maintain opportunities for parents to be engaged with our schools and provide opportunities for students to meet their academic needs in a supportive educational environment conducive for learning.

 
 
 
 

 

 

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