NILES, Ohio (WYTV) – In Tuesday’s election, voters in Niles decided it was time to change the school board.
All three incumbents were defeated as the Niles Schools work their way through fiscal emergency.
Shelly Lamb and Kim Barrell, two of the three new Niles School Board members, have big plans for the school system.
Chris Chieffo was also elected as a member of the school board.
“I would like to see a transparent budget. The levy passed, which is amazing. Truly, it’s great to see. But the public wants to see where their money goes and I don’t blame them,” Lamb said.
“We have to work with the state and work with the commission that’s been put in place to achieve and maintain fiscal solvency,” Barrell said.
The Niles Schools have had money issues since 2003, when they were first placed into fiscal watch.
The watch was dropped in 2016, but then in February of this year, the state took over — this time, declaring a fiscal emergency.
As the women campaigned, people said they wanted a change.
“I was asked multiple times, ‘Are you new? Are you old? Have you been there?’ The other question was, ‘Are you a parent?'” Barrell said.
Both Barrell and Lamb have children in the school system. Both are Niles graduates.
“I was just invited to a levy meeting last summer and then I just saw the disconnect between the community and the district, and I wanted to try and make a difference. I wanted to try and make a change,” Lamb said.
Lamb has no issues with Superintendent Ann Marie Thigpen.
“I don’t have a problem with Ann Marie. In my interactions with her with the levy campaign, I think she’s done fantastic,” Lamb said.
Barrell said Thigpen has done a good job but everything needs looked at, fiscally and academically.
“Why are we achieving a D as a school district? What is going on?” Barrell said.
“I’m invested in the future. I’m here. I’m in it for the long haul so let me try it. Let me see if I can make a difference,” Lamb said.
“Rebuilding the trust is the most important thing. Rebuilding that with our community and being open to them,” Barrell said.