*Local and frequent speaker at Board of Education meetings Robert Foster emailed this letter to Smithtown Patch bidding farewell to a Board of Education member.
A lone voice will soon be gone
In just a few short weeks, what has become a lone voice for questioning “business as usual” on our school board will be gone. As announced, Joseph Saggese will be stepping down and it will be a loss for both the student body as well as the community at large. In past few years I have watched Joe become that one voice who consistently questioned the actions of both the school board and the administration in attempt to bring good modern management practices to the operation of our school district.
I sense that Joe has always thought that being a school board member is an important responsibility that not only takes into account the over two hundred million dollars in annual expenditures but the future of thousands of students that come into the buildings each year. He has shown time and time again that the proper role of a board member should be to push the administration to do better with both the peoples’ money and the education of the students. I think his goal was to have a school that emulated that of a public corporation in that the board’s job is to push management to deliver the best product possible, the education of our students, at a cost that the share holders, our community, can afford.
I think Joe also is very sensitive to what good committed employees are as well. In a recent budget meeting Joe brought up the idea of the STA could help the administration by giving back a little to help meet the then projected budget gap. He then gave an example of what he was talking about by what he experienced in private industry. He stated that when the company he worked for got into a financial hole all of the employees took a cut in pay, and not just a reduction in their next increase but an actual reduction in what they took home moving forward, too help keep the company in business and help it prosper in a new business environment. As we all the new STA contract did not address that issue.
I hope Joe leaves with his head held high with the idea of at least he tried. And to the other board members who at times he may have gotten under their skin a little may I suggest you look at history and see how as a society we seem only to move away from a comfortable status quo to a new and better realty by people who challenge us in ways we might not want to be challenged but we all end up producing a better result because of it. Isn’t that what education is all about. Having every student challenged so that as they enter adult society they can grow and prosper in an ever changing environment.
I do hope that school board member Louis Liguori reconsiders his position he stated just last month. After a two year of negotiation with the STA he was highly frustrated that not one new idea on work rules was written into the new STA contract, an area he has so many good ideas to give. I hope he will reconsider and be a voice for a strong and well run school district for the sake of our children and our community.
Joseph Saggese, thank you for your service.
– Robert Foster