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New District 424 members looking forward to change

Published: Friday, April 12, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

GENOA – Newly elected Genoa-Kingston School District 424 board member Taunya Fischer says she wants to improve the district’s transparency when she is seated.

The board received some backlash after they approved $600,000 in cuts for the coming academic year at the March 19 meeting. They voted to lay off 14 teachers and eliminate freshman sports from the high school athletic program.

“I’m really hoping with the four new people on the board we might be able to openthe lines of communication a little better so people don’t feel they’re so blindsided with things,” Fischer said.

Fischer, Kerri Sosnowski, Kristin Brynteson and Heather Edwards will be seated April 30 after ousting incumbent board president Dale Pelley in the race for four of the seven seats on the board. The April 30 meeting also is expected to include discussion of calling back staff members and reinstating freshman sports, Superintendent Joe Burgess said.

“I think [the voters] wanted to see some new blood in there,” Sosnowski said.

The budget cuts approved last month left many community members and District 424 parents, including Tom Fisher, troubled.

A member of the Genoa-Kingston Fine Arts Boosters, which backed the election of the four new board members, Fisher said he is optimistic these new board members will bring a fresh perspective to the district.

“Hopefully, we’ll get another chance to look at these issues and see if there’s another way to resolve them,” he said.

Fisher said he and other community members had some concerns about the lack of involvement the community had in the previous board’s decision-making process. He hopes that will no longer be an issue with the new board.

“We feel as though they are going to make decisions more on what the community wants,” he said.

Fischer said she is ready to rise to the occasion and represent the community to the best of her ability.

Fischer said she realizes tackling the district’s dismal budget won’t be easy, but she is determined to look for ways to get the battered programs up and running at full strength again.

Pelley encouraged the new board members to familiarize themselves with the district’s finances as best they can.

“I think they should look at all the different parts of the financial picture,” he said. “See if they can find some things that we’ve missed.”

Although he was disappointed that his 16-year tenure on the board has come to an end, Pelley said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the Genoa-Kingston community and he’s optimistic about the future of the district.

“I think a fresh look and a fresh set of eyes in there is a good thing,” he said.

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