BUNNELL, Fla. - Two major personnel changes took place in Flagler Schools in recent days: School Board member Will Furry was appointed Chair, and spokesman Jason Wheeler resigned from his position.
Leadership both in the district’s government body and communication department are now drastically different than they were just at the start of the month.
Furry’s ascension to Chair marks a significant change in leadership priorities from past years of the School Board. He was voted in by a 3-2 majority, voting for himself and rounded out by Christy Chong and Sally Hunt. Furry succeeds Cheryl Massaro, who held the position since the Chair before her, Trevor Tucker, was voted out in 2022.
Chong was chosen to become Vice Chair, succeeding Collen Conklin in that position. Conklin herself came to a vote to become Chair, but was overridden by the same 3-2 majority that installed Furry.
Furry and Massaro have clashed before in their year together on the Board, with him motioning to censor her over critical comments made on social media in April. Furry was backed up in his motion by Chong, a frequent ally of his, but the motion ultimately failed 2-3.
Some of the most impactful initiatives of Furry's since being elected include the vote to fire ex-Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt (Furry voted with his four colleagues to bring in LaShakia Moore next), the aggressive campaign to remove Kristy Gavin as Board Attorney, and a push to restructure the finances of the Belle Terre Swim & Racquet Club.
The decision by Jason Wheeler to leave his post as the spokesman of Flagler Schools leaves the district without its longtime veterans public relations head, the man who's guided the district through some of its most tumultuous eras in history.
Wheeler was in office when proposed book bans thrust Flagler Schools into international news with tensions teetering on violence in 2021. He was there when Bunnell Elementary School organized racially segregated assemblies in 2023. He oversaw the public response when the district was scammed out of the better part of a million dollars earlier just weeks apart from the aforementioned assemblies. He helped guide the district through COVID-19, and the war of information that followed.
The leadership of Wheeler likely brought a calm that wouldn't otherwise exist as some School Board members during his tenure thrust themselves into controversy and politics where district issues were concerned. That trend certainly seems to be continuing with the current Board, and so Wheeler's replacement may find themselves compelled to study his notes.
Prior to his Flagler Schools gig, Wheeler was a TV news reported for Central Florida News 13, a CBS affiliate in Mobile, AL, an ABC affiliate in Augusta, Georgia, and a Fox affiliate in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.