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Independence Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

Term: 4 yearsThree seats on the board will be filled at this election. Russell G. Fortlage (current vice president) and Lynne Laski are running for re-election to the five-member board. They are being challenged by Ron Bernstein and Carrie Sears.The current president, Jerry Narduzzi, is not running for reelection. The terms of the other two board members, Joan Mencl and Kenn Synek, expire at the end of 2018.
  • Ron Bernstein

  • Candidate picture

    Russell G. Fortlage Commercial banker, retired

  • Lynne Laski Stay at home parent

  • Carrie Sears

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Biographical Information

Explain why you want to serve (or continue to serve) on the Board of Education. What talents do you think you add to the board?

What are the most significant issues facing your school district and what is the most effective way to deal with them?

Rankings by the state affect how your district is perceived by residents and prospective residents. How should the board react to the state's performance index rankings for the district?

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Education K-12 Independence Schools; undergraduate Bowling Green State University; National Commercial Lending Graduate School, Norman OK; Graduate School of Banking, Madison WI
Current occupation Retired commercial banker. Director, Independence BanCorp.
Qualifications for office Significant Board-level experience in both schools and business. Proven and sustained commitment to Independence Local School District and its stakeholders.
Campaign Phone (216) 524-0439
Email address
My 36 years on the Board, including 15 years as President, have given me a comprehensive understanding of the role of a Board member, including consensus building and avoiding the temptation to micromanage from a Board seat. I also bring significant financial and business acumen from my career in commercial banking. I truly care about the children, as evidenced by my lengthy Board service and my attendance at varied and numerous school activities throughout the district.
One of the most critical issues is properly funding the school community’s list of important but expensive facility enhancements, including roof replacement on Middle and Primary buildings, window and door replacements in the 56-year old Middle School, and air conditioning for Middle and Primary Schools. Roof replacements have begun piecemeal, funded from the operations budget. However, in order to appropriately balance spending between direct education and facilities, an increase in the permanent improvement levy or a new bond issue—while not likely to be popular—could be on the horizon. We are blessed to be able to offer Independence students high-quality education in secure facilities.
Independence ranks in the top 7% of schools; that is, 43rd out of 608. Board reaction should be a combination of pride and commitment to maintaining excellence. I am proud of our ranking and that Independence schools are great schools for reasons beyond the ranking, such as an excellent pupil-teacher ratio, safe and well-equipped classrooms, and emphasis on total development of the student through citizenship training and a wide array of co-curricular activities.
Age 60
Education 1975 graduate -Nordonia High School 1979 graduate - Mount Union College
Current occupation Stay at home parent
Qualifications for office Have served for 12 years on the Independence Board of Education, served for five years on Cuyahoga Valley Career Center BOE
Campaign Phone (216) 926-5889
Email address
My husband and I are raising 9 children, with 6 of them graduating from Independence and three are still in the schools. We also had several foster children go through several years of this District. I have had 12 years of experience on this Board as well as 5 years on the CVCC BOE.. Public education is a passion of mine and I stay involved and up to date on issues facing our schools and families in today's society.
As with all public school districts, funding is an issue for the schools, violence / bullying , and staying relevant with the curriculum. As for funding, we are always seeking to find new ways to engage our business partners, and our community to help us with sponserships, and new ideas to help with some of the financial help needed to maintain our facilities. We have been very fortunate to have received support from our businesses and community to pay for new turf on our football field, for example. School violence is always a priority for any district. We have a school hotline to be used by students and community members if they become aware of a threat. There are programs being instituted to counter feelings of isolation/and or depression among students, to try and prevent acts of bullying or violence.
As was presented in the Plain Dealer on October 1, 2017 many school officials and community members are beginning to see the lack of credibility of the report cards. How relevant is it to compare students from districts dealing with poverty and violence to a district in the suburbs? Although people use this measure to judge communities, there are many inconsistencies in the way the grades are determined. The State is constantly changing the rules, and the districts do not have time to adjust to the new criteria.

Our board looks at the results and is constantly trying to adapt the curriculum to help our students and teachers. Sadly, this cuts into some of the creativity of instruction, because of the focus on succeeding for these tests.
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