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FORESTVILLE: Results show bit of discontent

A quick glance regarding Tuesday’s school budget votes shows a bit of animosity in only one Chautauqua County district: Forestville. There, voters — by an eight-vote margin — approved the $13.5 million spending plan.

In all, 537 residents cast votes — an impressive number considering the lack of involvement by those in much larger districts. In Fredonia, about 400 residents cast votes while in Dunkirk more than 560 voted.

An even larger story in the district where enrollment hovers around 470 students is the major turnover on the school board. Newcomers Jamie Hebner, Derek Case and Lindsey Ellis all won seats, besting respected incumbents Sylvester Cleary and Carol Woodard.

For her part, Ellis has been the most involved in the district over the last seven months. Last fall, she led a petition drive to get current Superintendent Renee Garrett to resign her position. Taking office, however, Ellis knows she needs to work with the superintendent.

There are, however, other issues. A barely passing spending plan is something Ellis says needs more attention.

“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.”

For the record, a sentiment for change was not always evident at school board meetings in recent months. There were, however, signs of discontent over school happenings in the days leading up to the vote as campaign signs began to dot lawns in the community.

Voters in the district have spoken and made a change in what is considered a tight-knit school. Things could now start moving in a very different direction.

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