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New faces hit trifecta for Forestville board

FORESTVILLE — The Forestville school board has seen a shake-up following Tuesday’s election. In total, six candidates were running for just three spots. The two incumbents, Sylvester Cleary and President Carol Woodward, were contested by four new faces, Christy Muck, Lindsey Ellis, Derek Case, and Jamie Hebner.

Clearly, the Forestville community wanted change. Woodward and Cleary, each longtime members of the school board, finished with the least number of votes, with Woodward receiving 196 and Cleary receiving 256. Muck finished as the third one out, ending with 263 votes.

Hebner (291), Case (288), and Ellis (267) were each elected to four-year school board terms that expire in 2026. The most notable name of the new school board members is Lindsey Ellis, who a few months ago was very vocal in believing that Forestville Superintendent Renee Garrett should resign. With Garrett’s contract having just been extended for five years, Ellis said she’s now looking forward to working with Garrett.

“She and her district Clerk Kristin Irwin each had their contracts renewed for five yeras, so they’ll both be there for my entire term,” Ellis said. “I look forward to finding a way to work with them.”

Ellis has been diligently in attendance at nearly each of Forestville’s school board meetings for this entire school year, and has three students in the district herself, with her youngest in first grade and her oldest in sixth. Ellis said her main motivation for running for the school board is to address the multitude of bullying issues she has heard about at the school.

“I have personally heard about a lot of bullying issues and we’d call the school and nothing would get done,” said Ellis.

“My main motivation is to end the bullying issues, while trying to come up with programs that work with students and teachers.”

While the board has seen a lot of turnover, both with this election and in the last year, Ellis said she has a good relationship with several of the members — new and old. She mentioned knowing Amy Drozdziel and Merv Fry for years, and she’s excited to get to work with them, mainly on trimming the budget for next year.

“I hope all of us can work together on trimming some fat on the budget,” she said. “A lot of people were upset it had the maximum allowable raise, so we want to get to the bottom of that. … It’s the board’s job to explain what the budget is. People want this information and we want to make it available.”

As for the other two new members, Case and Hebner, Ellis said they’ve spoken quite a bit through the election process. Ellis said her kids share the same grade as Case’s and Hebner’s kids, and the fact they are all parents in the district could be way the community got over an inherent resistance to change.

“There’s a big resistance to change, but all of us have small children in the district,” said Ellis. “All of us really want to make positive changes.”

She believes it is the job of the school board to make information regarding the budget, school purchases, and other board matters as transparent as possible

While Ellis is excited to begin her term, she does admit there will likely be a learning curve when it comes to learning the legality and regulations of being a part of the school board. But with that in mind, Ellis said everything should be smooth sailing once their terms officially begin.

“I’m sure everyone will be open to working with us on the board,” she said. “I don’t foresee any problem.”

Case, in a Facebook post, noted he was a lifelong resident who wanted “more transparency between administration, all FCS staff, parents and the community. I believe school board members must be responsive and receptive to the concerns of parents, students, staff, and the community by having open communication. My father was on the school board for eightyears and showed me how being involved can help make great changes in the district to ensure the educational needs of all students are met, district staff is supported and community members concerns are heard.”

The next Forestville school board meeting will be on Thursday, June 9 at 6:30 p.m.

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