On May 17, residents will elect three members to the Fayetteville-Manlius School District Board of Education.
The board is the official policy-making body of the school district. It is responsible for carrying out the laws and regulations pertaining to the education of the community’s children. It adopts school district policy, curriculum and programs of study, approves the hiring of all personnel and establishes the conditions of employment.
In addition, the board has the responsibility of maintaining facilities, establishing an annual budget and setting a tax levy. The school board adopts a proposed operating budget each year at a public meeting. Eligible residents then have the opportunity to vote upon the proposal.
The F-M Board of Education is comprised of nine school district residents who are elected by voters to three-year terms in an annual election. Terms are staggered so that three members are elected each year. Board members are not compensated for their work.
In addition to the elected members, the board includes a non-voting student member selected each year by the administration to serve a one-year term. The student, who must be a senior at F-M High School, will attend all public meetings and is encouraged to participate in all public discussions.
Seven candidates filed nominating petitions for the three available seats (candidates’ names are listed in ballot order):
Forrest D. Heaney
Elena A. Romano
Christopher P. McKee
Daryll Fitch Wheeler
The available seats are for three-year terms, beginning July 1, 2022.
The following candidate profiles and photos (if applicable) were submitted to the district. Candidates’ names are listed in ballot order.
Joseph Dunaway, of Manlius, is seeking his first term on the board of education. A district resident for seven years, Dunaway lives with his spouse, Leighanna Tallman, and has four children: two attend Eagle Hill Middle School (grades 6 and 7) and two are not yet school age. He attended Canisius College, St. John Fisher College, Onondaga Community College, is a cum laude graduate of Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, and served eight years with the United States Marine Corps. He is a graduate of Jamesville-DeWitt High School. Dunaway is a volunteer coach for F-M Little League and F-M Pop Warner. He is the founder and chief executive officer for Knifehand Nutrition and JD3 Enterprise, Inc., and is a senior tax manager for John A. Testone, Jr., CPA.
Forrest D. Heaney
Forrest D. Heaney, of Manlius, is seeking his first term on the board of education. He and his wife, Mackenzie are district residents of nearly seven years. Heaney is a lead distribution control center training representative for National Grid, and a small property business owner. A Chittenango Central School District graduate, Heaney received a business administration degree from Onondaga Community College and also attended Herkimer County Community College. He is a member of Missio Church and Cavalry Club in Manlius.
Elena A. Romano
Elena A. Romano, of Fayetteville, is seeking her eighth term on the board of education. She has lived in the school district since 1985. She has served on the Board of Education since 1998, including three years as its president and one year as vice president. She has also served as president of the Fayetteville Elementary HSA, co-president of the F-M Varsity Football Booster Club, and board member of the F-M Education Foundation, among other volunteer activities. She supervised accounts payable for her family’s business for five years and taught Suzuki violin for 12 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from St. Lawrence University and completed Suzuki Violin Teacher Training at Ithaca College. She and her husband, Michael, have three children who graduated from F-M schools.
Christopher P. McKee
Christopher P. McKee, of Manlius, is seeking his first term on the board of education. He and his wife, Maggie relocated to the Manlius area from Washington, D.C. in 2016 and have two children: one in third grade at Enders Road Elementary School and a kindergartner at Mott Road Elementary School. For eight-and-a-half years, McKee served in the United States Army National Guard as a satellite and cellular communications engineer. He is a graduate of the New Jersey State Police Training Commission for Attorney General’s Office – Juvenile Justice Commission, and has certifications in management, quality assurance, grants and capture management. McKee is currently a Senior Capture Manager for Acuity International and works with various government agencies. For two years beginning in 2018, McKee served on the F-M Health and Safety Committee. He was a volunteer for the F-M Fast Bees youth running program, and helps with various school community events, including Monster Mash and science night. He also volunteers with Clear Path for Veterans and helps mentor veterans as they transition from active duty.
Cynthia Hefti, of Manlius, is seeking her first term on the board of education. She and her husband, Jonathan have two children who are Fayetteville-Manlius High School graduates. Hefti has been a district resident for 20 years. She is an Oneonta High School graduate, received a Bachelor of Science degree from SUNY Oneonta, and a Masters in the Art of Teaching degree from Colgate University. Before retiring in 2020, Hefti was an F-M English teacher for 24 years. During this time, she was the pilot teacher for the high school’s former ILEX program, which is now called ACCESS, and received a Teacher of Excellence award from the New York State English Council. She also served as advisor for two high school student groups: an animal shelter assistance club, and a club focusing on supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Hefti is a member of the Fayetteville-Owahgena Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).
Sarah Fitzgerald, of Manlius, is seeking her first term on the board of education. She and her spouse, Patrick have four children: one in sixth grade at Eagle Hill Middle School, one in fourth grade at Enders Road Elementary, one in first grade at Enders Road Elementary, and a pre-kindergartner who attends Playschool Preschool in Manlius. Fitzgerald has been a district resident for 20 years. She is a volunteer with Enders Road’s Home and School Association and previously served as the organization’s co-treasurer. She also serves on the Vera House Board of Directors and leads its Strategic Planning Committee, leads Playschool Preschool’s Parent Advisory Council and is a Leadership Greater Syracuse graduate. Fitzgerald graduated from LeRoy High School and received a Bachelor of Science degree from LeMoyne College. She is a former Human Resource Manager and Program Manager for Sensis & Saab Corporation, and is currently a stay-at-home parent.
Daryll Fitch Wheeler
Daryll Fitch Wheeler, of Fayetteville, is seeking her third term on the board of education. A graduate of Fayetteville-Manlius High School (‘64), Wheeler has been a district resident for more than 60 years. She and her husband, David Merrill Wheeler, Sr., have seven children, all of whom are Fayetteville-Manlius graduates, and six grandchildren who have each attended or are attending F-M schools. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature from Nazareth College, a Master of Science degree in reading and language arts from Syracuse University, and a Certificate of Advanced Study in school administration from LeMoyne College. Before retiring in 2011, she was an F-M English teacher for one year, and then a Jamesville-DeWitt Central School District English and reading teacher for 10 years before spending seven years as a teacher trainer/staff developer with OCM BOCES. She is a lector and Eucharistic minister at Immaculate Conception Church and is co-chairing the parish’s 150th anniversary. During her first two board of education terms, Wheeler served on the facilities, wellness and community relations committees and chaired the audit committee.