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Veteran Millstone school board members saluted for service at final meeting

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MILLSTONE – Three departing members of the Millstone Township K-8 School District Board of Education have been recognized for their years of service to the district.

The board’s Dec. 16 meeting was the final appearance for Sal Casale, David DePinho, who was board president in 2019, and Kevin McGovern. All three men did not seek new terms in the Nov. 5 election and left their seats on Dec. 31. They were succeeded by Shannon Pulaski, Amrita Singh and Mary Waskovich, who joined the panel on Jan. 6.

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McGovern joined the board in 2007 and was the longest-serving member prior to his departure. Casale initially served from 2008-14 and rejoined the board by appointment in 2016 before being elected to a three-year term. DePinho joined the board in 2009.

Superintendent of Schools Christopher Huss said, “Over 10 years of service for each of you and personally, the three of you have been instrumental in any success I have had in these first three years (as superintendent). You have been great mentors, role models and confidants.

“(You have been) reliable, put in a lot of time and been on numerous committees, dealt with budget shortfalls, negotiations. I don’t think there’s anyone in this town who could say anything other than great things for the three of you and the service you have given to this community,” Huss said.

The board’s vice president, Melissa Riviello, said, “Thank you for your time, for your vision, for your work. Thank you for passing on your wisdom and your thoughtfulness. I hope you can leave peacefully knowing your work will not go in vain.

“You are passing on the torch to those who know our history, have learned from it and will build upon it. It’s because of your hard work, vision and knowledge that collectively, along with a few other Board of Education leaders, our district has a strong foundation and is in a much better place to build upon a strong future. The possibilities are there for us and attainable because of your tireless efforts of collectively over 30 years of service,” Riviello said.

“It’s truly been an honor to serve with you,” board member Cynthia Bailey said. “Thank you for all you have done and how far you have taken this district.

Former board member Margaret Gordon and Millstone Township Middle School Principal Trish Bogusz also voiced praise of Casale, DePinho and McGovern.

“I would be remiss if I didn’t show up because for the 10 years I spent on the board, the three of you have been the rock,” Gordon said. “I think the turning point was when Kevin and David led this district when we had been fined a million dollars. We had 11 board meetings (in one) summer, six to seven hours long, and we did it. That was the tipping point to go from Millstone being Millstone to Millstone being great. I’ll never forget that.

“Sal got in there, took a vacation and came back because he missed it so much,” she continued. “First grade field day is when I recruited David for the board and now our kids are seniors. I am immensely grateful for what you have done for the board and I will tell you the last two years have been awesome.”

“I came here 17 years ago and I thought to myself this was a nice, small district,” Bogusz said. “Then I watched the vision of the board pull us out of a dark place with our administrative leadership and the three of you have been amazing.”

Casale said, “It’s been a long run, a good run and it’s kind of sentimental. My kids came through here, one’s in college and the other is in high school. It’s a really nice place. We definitely had a lot of challenges and worked together to solve them.”

“We are not the board, David, Sal and I,” McGovern said. “The board is a collection of people who operate together in good faith and good will and have a sincere desire to help the people around them. Through this experience, which has candidly been one of the great privileges of my life, I learned that you get much more out of public service than you put in.

“It’s a lot of work, but you leave with a sense of accomplishment, with a sense that you have taken a group of people someplace,” he continued. “You have made things better for the people around you and the relationships you forge over the course of time are things that never leave you.

“Even though I won’t be here in these meetings, I’m still here in the community and I still treasure every moment I have spent with you (on the dais) and every moment I will spend with you,” McGovern said.

“This has really been a remarkable journey,” DePinho said. “It’s not just about us (the outgoing members), it’s about what we all do together and what we have done on prior boards.

“We always had the compass of doing what is right for the children; even when we were searching for the million dollars, even when we were making changes to make things better. I think if we can always keep that as the compass, you all will continue to do fine,” he said.

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