Super Search Defended
I am writing this letter in response to Thomas M. Jones’ letter in the January 23rd issue of your paper condemning the Sag Harbor Board of Education decision for extending the contract of Carl Bonuso’s Ed.D.
He initially asks and with bias answers the following question:
“Do you really think the parents are going to be happy that the board cannot make executive decisions on replacing needed personnel during a critical learning transition in this school district? It is clear the board wants to defer responsibility making needed changes. I’m extremely disappointed that the board has given this position to a retired administrator though talented, is in reality a retired administrator who collects a pension and a substantial salary, which in itself is a self-serving means. Do you think he will be critical of anything that doesn’t serve his interest? It appears our district will be on hold for the next two years. Already many of us are disgruntled with the new IB program with much confusion going forward.”
As a member of the Sag Harbor Board of Education (BOE), I cannot speak for any other board member or for the board as an entity, but I am presenting my own views on the subject.
Carl Bonuso, Ed.D., Interim Superintendent of Schools, is the most qualified candidate to lead the school district over the next two years through potentially difficult times, introducing APPR, further evaluating and implementing International Baccalaureate (I.B.), addressing a difficult bond issue and negotiating labor contracts in a recessive economy. The BOE, the community, the administrators, and the employees of the district have been exposed to his management over the last six months and he receives rave reviews from all parties.
As a matter of fact in surveying the community in the search for a superintendent many people responded with the comment “to clone Dr. Bonuso.”
After working with Dr. Bonuso I stated both publicly and privately that we had not only found “a needle in a haystack, but a gold needle at that.”
Thomas Jones goes on to state the following:
“The purpose of having an independent administrator is to act as a checks and balance. This balance being the responsibility to staff, the board, students and parents. The current situation is a stacked deck in favor of the board in effect being the true administrator for our district. Who has our backs going forward regarding educational standards and excellence? To trust some board members is a very disturbing situation which makes their agenda more important than the overall concerns of what our students need going forward.”
Is Mr. Jones asserting that, because the BOE did not allow the staff, students, and parents to vote in their final election process, they have created a “stacked deck” to allow the BOE to pursue a process whereby the board assumes the operational responsibility of the school district?
In an attempt to further my education in regard to my position on the board, I recently came across a publication from the Commissioner of Education of the State of New York. The title is “A Statement on the Governance Role of a Trustee or Board Member.”
I found this publication to be instructional and informative on the role of a school board member and the separation of responsibilities of a board member and the superintendent of schools. One of the key questions and answers it presents follows:
“How do I distinguish between my governance role and that of a supporter or team player for my institution?
“There is a fine line between governance and being a supporter of an institution. Members need to avoid meddling in managing daily affairs. Trustees/board members must balance their role as supporters for the institution’s success against their governance role as overseers of the institution’s management to ensure that assets are used properly, laws and regulations are followed, and the public interest is best served. The board needs to support the institution’s management but must also govern by holding the chief executive officer accountable for the institution’s operations and service to the public.
“In the governance role, trustees/board members should be concerned with protecting the public interest which they serve. Members exercise this role by hiring a CEO to manage the operation of the institution and evaluating his/her overall performance in providing services to the public.”
I hope this explains clearly to Mr. Jones the different responsibilities and authority a board of education and superintendent of schools possess. I for one feel validated after reading this publication. Since joining the board in July of 2010, I have stated on numerous occasions my feelings of drawing the line between my duties and responsibilities and the operational issues of running the school district. It is not my place to speak for other board members, but I do think they all recognize their responsibilities and limitations in regard to the operation of the school district.
Twice in his letter Mr. Jones negatively addresses Dr Bonuso as being a retired administrator, collecting a salary, and pension and I quote:
“I’m extremely disappointed that the board has given this position to a retired administrator though talented, is in reality a retired administrator who collects a pension and a substantial salary which in itself is a self-serving means. Do you think he will be critical of anything that doesn’t serve his interest.
“I don’t recall parents wanting a retired Administrator who was already collecting a pension being one of the criteria that parents wanted in a “new” administrator.”
I think these statements are totally unfair to Dr. Bonuso. His experience comes with age and having lived through working with problems throughout his career that are similar to what we are facing today. This experience should be invaluable to the school district. I don’t believe they are meant that way, however, Mr. Jones comments could be construed as age discrimination, and there is no place for this in our school district, or community.
Mr. Jones also states that:
“I was a participant in the search for a new administrator (a process that was abandoned without explanation”).
I hope that Mr. Jones was not expecting his participation in the process to lead to his having a vote in the selection of the superintendent, that is the responsibility of the school board.
In conclusion, I respect Mr. Jones’ participation in the process and making his feelings public in his letter to the Sag Harbor Express, however, I do not support his conclusions and that is my opinion as a Board of Education member.
To the editor,
I believe our multiple wars around the globe have begun to resemble the never ending killing fields, a threat to humanity. To choose sides I would contribute to the violence. A starting point might well be the violence within me.
Dear Mr. Boyhan,
I would like to respectfully disagree with the three people who answered the question in the inquiring photographer “Should there be guns in school?”
In a perfect world I would have answered as they did: No Guns!
However, we do not live in a perfect world. In our world bad people will have guns.
“The only way to stop bad people with guns is good people with guns.”
Our forefathers, in their wisdom gave us the second amendment for very good reasons: To protect ourselves, our families, our property and to protect ourselves from the government.
We must not let what happened in Connecticut be an excuse to strip us from our second amendments rights. If that school had an armed guard the outcome might have been different. If the people of Iran had guns they would not have been slaughtered in the streets while they peacefully demonstrated.
Meanwhile we all grieve for those who were massacred in that perfect little hamlet tucked away in a paradise setting, unprotected, just waiting; waiting, waiting…
May God have mercy on us.
Thank you! On behalf of the Southampton Town Democratic Committee, I would like to thank everyone who helped organize our very successful Inaugural Celebration on January 21st and the 240 guests who braved the snowy night to join the celebration.
People of all political persuasions came from Montauk, East Hampton, Shelter Island, Riverhead, Center Moriches and, of course, Southampton Town, to enjoy great company, fabulous music and a delicious dinner.?Tim Burke and his staff at 230 Elm provided the gourmet fare and the festive venue that complemented the guests dressed in their evening finery.
The music was nonstop – first up was Charles Certain and his jazz ensemble, Certain Moves, who entertained us all with his smooth sounds. Next, we were moved by the amazing voices of the Genesis Ensemble Gospel Choir, led by Elder Melvin Robinson and Deacon Kenneth R. Brown. Finally, guests danced till closing to the Latin music of Carlos Ponce and his band.
A very good time was had by all!
Gordon Herr, Chair
Southampton Town Democratic Committee