George Economides maintained a humble approach to his long service as a Brookfield Board of Education member.
“I didn’t make all the right decisions,” he said, “but I didn’t make all the wrong ones, either.”
Economides, 79, wrapped up his service in December after deciding not to run again. He served during two nonconsecutive periods of his life, and no one is sure just how long he served in total. The district honored him for “more than 24 years,” and Economides guessed he probably put in about 27.
The Cleveland native’s impact on the district will be felt every time the board meets. It has named its meeting space the “George Economides Board Meeting Room.”
Economides served during some of the district’s lowest points, when the district struggled to pay its bills and the state stepped in to oversee the district’s finances, and during periods such as the present, when the district is stable financially and is looking to expand programming, particularly with an eye on preparing students who are not going to college to work in well-paid, in-demand jobs.
Economides had a clear understanding of his role as a board member: support the administration, oversee finances and set policy. His job was not to run the school, he said.
He wanted the job so he could give back to a community that he said had given so much to him, and stressed the importance of letting that community have its say in how decisions were made.
“I try to be approachable,” he said. “I may not agree with you, but I’ll listen to you.”
He often thanked people who expressed views on school issues for being willing to come forward with them, even in those cases when it was clear that he held a counter viewpoint; complimented the administration, staff and other school employees on the jobs they were doing; and pushed the board members and administrators to mind the details, consider the big picture and try to get outside the conventional wisdom or established way of doing things.
“Thank you for all of your tireless service and thank you for what you’ve provided this community,” said board President Sarah Kurpe, who is in her first term. “I think it’s a reminder of the legacy that you can leave behind, at the end of the day. I just really appreciate what you’ve done for this community, for this board and I know, personally, I’ve really appreciated your help and assistance.”
Economides has done more for the community than people will ever know, officials said
“George, thank you for your very public support for this district, for the students and the staff, and all the things that you did privately that people don’t know, the dinners that you paid for, the financial assistance to students in need,” said Mary Arp, high school teacher and president of the teacher’s union.
“You’ve been a true Warrior,” Arp said.
Supt. Toby Gibson thanked Economides for “over 24 years of service on the school board and decades of support for families, students, faculty, probably more than we’ll ever know.”
In accepting the praise, Economides exhibited that famous humility.
“My pleasure,” he said.