With Ron Brennan and Tim Filipovich deciding not to run again for Brookfield Board of Education, two new people will fill those seats. Three people are running: Mark Ferrara, Melissa A. Sydlowski and Sarah Kurpe.
Sydlowski and Kurpe both were in the news recently as participating in the ultimately successful effort to get Brookfield Middle School Principal Toby Gibson promoted to superintendent. Ferrara and Sydlowski are Brookfield graduates and have had long careers in education, and all three have positive things to say about each other.
Here are snapshots of the candidates:
Sarah Kurpe, 44, of 1298 Warner Road NE.
A native of California, she is married to George Kurpe, who is a Brookfield High School assistant football coach and whose family owns Laddie’s and the Milk Barn in Masury and Vienna Beverage.
Kurpe served 12 years in the army, where she met her husband, and two tours of duty overseas. She is in sales for a software company.
She formerly worked for a company that sold products to area school districts, giving her experience talking to school boards and preparing documents for school boards that concerned her products, she said.
“We are definitely invested in the community,” Kurpe said. “This is it. This is where we want to continue to raise our (three) children and raise our family.”
Mark Ferrara, 61, of 999 Taylor Ave.
A life-long Brookfield resident, Ferrara graduated from Brookfield High in 1976 as worked in education in Pennsylvania as an industrial arts teacher, coach, club adviser, assistant principal, principal and director of curriculum, and then served as superintendent in Sharpsville and Greenville. He retired in June 2018.
His previous service to Brookfield included being a member of the zoning committee that failed to get zoning passed in November 2017.
“Now that I’m retired, I have time and I’d like to give back to the community,” he said. “I think I bring a fresh set of eyes and ears. By no means do I say I know everything, but I’ve had a very successful career I’m proud of.”
Melissa Sydlowski, 48, of 456 Seaburn St.
The 1989 Brookfield High graduate and life-long resident of Brookfield has been a teacher for 20 years, the last 18 teaching juniors and seniors general and honors English at Trumbull Career and Technical Center.
Sydlowski’s mother-in-law, Joanne, served on the school board for 16 years.
“I hadn’t thought about it (running for school board) until the rally to help Toby becoming superintendent,” she said. “I just got very passionate about Brookfield schools – I’ve always been – but seeing the community come together to work to get Toby the position that I felt he deserved really just kind of made me start thinking that I would like to become even more involved with the school.”
School board members are paid $125 a month as long as they attend at least one board meeting, said district Treasurer Craig Yaniglos. They also are allowed to participate in the school’s health care plan, but the school district does not pay for any part of that plan on their behalf.