TAVARES – Kristi Burns and Sandy Gamble were sworn in as new School Board members Tuesday.

The two new board members fill seats vacated by incumbents Rosanne Brandeburg and Debbie Stivender, who both chose not to seek reelection.

The School Board also unanimously selected Marc Dodd to serve as the board’s chairman.

Dodd has often questioned district policies and has been outspoken about finding ways to boost student achievement.

School Board member Bill Mathias spoke with appreciation about his service as chairman this past year.

“I hope you felt it was transparent and open for you to give input,” he said of board meetings. “It has been an absolute honor to serve as chair. I am looking forward to our new board members that will bring the same excitement Marc and Stephanie brought. Better than yesterday, but not as good as tomorrow.”

Gamble, an appliance technician for maintenance at the school district and a pastor, thanked his family and God at his first meeting on the board.

“I want to thank Kyleen Fischer,” he said, referring to the late former School Board member and child advocate. “She was there to support me. When it looked like things were low, she said, ‘Don’t worry; God is on your side.’ She was there for students, faculty and staff and did everything she could to get out there. I want to be there to leave that legacy as well. I want to make this district the best in the state of Florida if not in the south. It takes a community to raise and educate a child.”

Gamble said he also wants to go to the schools and visit with the teachers and hear their concerns.

“Unless we go out of the diocese and get into the school system, all we are getting is hearsay,” he said. “I am hopeful I can represent everyone. I want to make the right decisions to the best interest of all.”

Burns also thanked her family and supporters, smiling and full of energy as she shared her vision for the board.

“I want to try and be your voice,” said Burns, a scientist with a doctorate from Georgia Tech. “I want to make researched, logical and well thought out decisions by listening to you and hearing the needs of the community.”