The Orange Board of Education paid a heartfelt good-bye at its October meeting to three members who did not run for re-election in November’s race. Both Kimberley Browe and Christian Young served two four-year terms that began in 2013 and Charles Flynn served one term.
While recognizing the three for their years of service, Superintendent Vince Scarpetti thanked them for their dedication and the cohesiveness they brought. “There are stereotypes about boards and why people want to become board members. The word ‘hidden agenda’ is used too often. I’ve seen it as a teacher and as an administrator of a school and I think without people knowing the finer details of this board and how the members work together, there are no hidden agendas here but one: the students of Orange,” he said.
During Browe’s parting comments, she explained how she reflected on her eight years on the board. “When I was asked to read the mission statement before tonight’s meeting, I was very enthusiastic because I had spent this weekend really thinking about the last line, ‘together we will make a difference.’”
When she ran eight years ago, she wanted to make a difference and said that the reason she decided to run again four years later was the ‘together we’ part of the statement. “I thank all of you for being the ‘together we.’ You are among the smartest, most committed, flexible thinking, open-minded group of leaders that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. Even when we disagreed, we were not adversaries,” she said. “All the time I knew that we had the same interests and that was what’s best for kids and it’s okay that we didn’t always agree on the best way to get there. My message to those who are coming on after us is yes, to focus on making a difference, but try to remember the ‘together we’ part, because this is an amazing team.”
Three newly elected members – Liz Tremper, Ronnette Pompano James and Tatiana Messina Mullen – will join the board at its November meeting.
“It’s been said many times that the Board of Education is the board that takes the most of your time. Not only are you dedicated to your profession, family and kids, you are dedicated to the students of Orange. From the bottom of my heart, and the staff here, thank you for the commitment that you have provided us,” Scarpetti said.
After noting the numerous committees that Browe served on, he said that he had the benefit of working very closely with Browe and Young. “Her dedication over many years, not only serving as a board member, but as a PTA leader, having children go through the school system – we are incredibly grateful for your dedication and you will be sorely missed.”
He shared similar thoughts on Young, thanking him for his ‘incredible service. “He is committed not only to his own career, but to his family and still making the time to serve at many meetings and always making himself available for discussions.”
Flynn joined the board in 2017 and participated in a variety of ways with the Curriculum and Instruction Subcommittee and has recently been working with Buildings and Grounds. Scarpetti thanked him for his dedication while Board Chairman Bill Kraut called Flynn a very dedicated board member and said he appreciated the fact that he’s not afraid to take on issues that not everyone would agree with. “He is tireless as Chairman of Buildings and Grounds and I thank you for your dedication to our children,” Kraut said.
Kraut also mentioned that he first met Browe on the board and said they’ve certainly disagreed over the years, but always talked it out with the end result being what’s best for the kids.
“One of my favorite things about Kim is her great smile. We would talk a lot outside of meetings and no matter what we talked about, when I got off the phone with Kim, I had a smile on my face and I appreciate that you always made me smile,” he said.
Friends on and off the board, Kraut also shared some insight to his relationship with Young.
“Some people may think that we have a cantankerous relationship, which we do at times, here and away,” he joked. “I have relied on Christian many times behind the scenes for advice, whether about legalities or procedures, he has always been there for me. Much like brothers, we don’t always agree, but at the end of the day we are friends,” Kraut said.
Looking forward to leading Orange Schools with a new regime, Scarpetti said, “We wish you three all of the best with all of the free time you’ll now have.”
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent