The Amity Board of Education elected a new chairperson at its monthly meeting in January. Chris Browe, who has served on the board for six years, was elected to the position in a narrow vote that initially had the board deadlocked.
Pat Cardozo, who has been on the board for eight and one-half years, will continue to serve as vice chairperson. Sheila McCreven, who has been on the board for three and one-half years after serving on the Woodbridge Board of Education, will carry on as Secretary as will Paula Cofrancesco as deputy treasurer. Steve DeMaio was elected to the treasurer role that Browe formerly held.
Prior to the vote, long-time board member and acting chair Thomas Hurley urged the board to nominate a chairperson with experience to bring to the role. “Just to give you some idea of the quality you have on your current board, I have 13 years and between us [officers], we have 30 years of experience. That is a lot of experience. You have a good team and I recommend that you keep that team, but that’s what the elections are for.”
DeMaio nominated Thomas Hurley for chairman. Amy Esposito nominated Chris Browe, seconded by Sheila McCreven. Noting that she respected both Hurley and Browe, Jennifer Turner nominated John Belfonti. “I haven’t been on this board very long, so I don’t know all of you well,” said Turner. “I have enjoyed my time on the negotiations committee with Mr. Hurley very much. It’s not everyone that has the stamina to talk quantum physics until all hours of the night. I appreciate his intellectual curiosity and his clear long-term commitment to education and the people of Amity.”
“I don’t know Mr. Browe as well, but I’ve appreciated his attention to detail and the community mindedness I’ve seen in the readings of policy coming before this board. Despite my personal respect for Mr. Hurley and Mr. Browe, I feel a responsibility to the people of Bethany to add John Belfonti as consideration for chair,” she said, citing an instance when Belfonti strongly supported maintaining Bethany representation on the finance committee.
Hurley nominated Sheila McCreven for chairperson, saying, “Experience matters. Ms. McCreven has been on another board and served time here and I think she deserves consideration for her time and service.” Saying she could not serve as board chair, McCreven removed her name from consideration. Hurley then nominated Pat Cardoza, who also declined, saying she’d like to continue serving as vice-chair and learning through that role.
Three voted for Hurley, six for Browe and six for Belfonti. “With no majority vote for any of the candidates, and the nominee with the lowest amount of votes is removed from the list,” explained Superintendent of Schools Charles Dumais. The board voted again, for either Browe or Belfonti, each receiving six votes with Hurley abstaining.
According to ‘Robert’s Rules,’ the board was required to continue to vote until a winner is declared. If the board remained deadlocked, the vote would have been tabled. McCreven made a motion to table the vote until the end of the meeting for the consideration of the attendees at the meeting.
Once the board took care of its regular monthly business, they revisited the vote, beginning with a 10 minute caucus with republicans and democrats meeting privately. In a re-vote, with Hurley ultimately casting the deciding vote, Browe was nominated chairman of the board. Pat Cardozo was unanimously voted the board’s vice chair, Steve DeMaio as treasurer and Sheila McCreven as secretary. Paula Defrancesco will continue as deputy treasurer.
In his first order of business as chairman, Browe thanked Hurley for his dedication, “I would like to thank Tom publicly for his transitional role as chairman. We had Bill Blake here for a long time and it’s important to transition. It’s a new board and we have a lot of people with relatively new experience and we welcome them. There are some great things we can do together as a board and I want to recognize Tom for the time and effort and planning that has gone into the transference.”
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent