Tag Archive | "Greg Schiavoni"

Three Run For Two Open Seats on the Sag Harbor School Board

Tags: , , , , , ,


By Claire Walla

There are two open seats on the Sag Harbor School Board this year, and current board members Walter Wilcoxen and Gregg Schiavoni are vying to keep them. However, a third contender has stepped in, making this election much more of a race.

Sag Harbor resident Tom Gleeson has been part of the Sag Harbor School District for the past five years. And this year, with his youngest daughter about to graduate from Pierson High School, he’s decided to make a run for the school board.

“Some people had asked me about running,” he said. “I come at things from a different perspective than some of the people on the school board now.”

Gleeson has a long history with the public school system, having been involved with every grade from kindergarten to 12th during his 33-year career, teaching history and philosophy, as well as physical education.

“For me, the most important part of education was always the kids,” he said.

While he’s not inclined to focus on any one issue just yet, saying that if he joins the board his first priority will be to learn the process, one issue Gleeson’s paid attention to in the past year is curriculum development.

It’s no secret that Gleeson was staunchly opposed to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program this year and last, when the board was still discussing the idea of bringing it into the district. Instead, he believed the district should have focused on developing a school-wide curriculum for all grade levels.

This is where he, Wilcoxen and Schiavoni differ.

“I basically want to continue supporting IB, make sure it gets instituted and gets a lot of support,” said Wilcoxen, former school board president who is running for his third term on the board.

Though the school board formally approved the district’s IB application this winter, Wilcoxen said implementing the program in the fall will require a lot of effort school-wide.

“I feel like the job’s not done,” he added.

The other issue Wilcoxen said he’d like to focus on is negotiating new teacher contracts.

“We need to come up with a new dynamic with the community,” he said. “I’d like everybody to be educated [on teachers’ salaries and benefits] so that we can discuss this from a place of knowledge, not this argumentative dynamic.”

Schiavoni, who was elected in the heat of teacher negotiations, agreed that the teachers’ contract discussions were crippling for the board.

“That took up an enormous amount of time,” he said. “It was a big stumbling block in terms of what we’ve been able to offer students.”

Schiavoni continued to say that his main impetus for running for his second term stems from the fact that the board has gained a lot of momentum since teachers’ contracts were finally settled.

Both he and Wilcoxen pointed to the board’s resolution to allow Pierson to move ahead with the IB program, as well as the implementation of a Pre-K program as very positive steps for the district.

“I feel like I owe it to the district to stay on,” said Schiavoni who currently has two kids in the district, both of them at Sag Harbor Elementary School.

Wilcoxen sent two children through the district, the younger of the two is just now finishing up college.

Gleeson retired from the public school system before moving to Sag Harbor and now works in the college admissions office at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in East Elmhurst, N.Y. He also consults with students here in Sag Harbor on the college admissions process.

“I think Gregg [Schiavoni] and Walter [Wilcoxen] have done a very nice job,” Gleeson said of his opponents. “But, sometimes there’s a need for a new voice.”

Budget Big Issue for School Board Candidates

Tags: , , , , ,


In the months leading up to summer, the weather will get warmer, plants will bloom and potential candidates for the Sag Harbor School board will hit the streets seeking signatures for their petitions. It is only April and already current school board president Walter Wilcoxen, school Budget Advisory Committee members Ed Drohan and Elena Loreto, and local parent Greg Schiavoni announced their intention to run for the two seats, which will be open in June. Although they differ on several points, the budget and maintaining academic rigor is a chief concern for each candidate.

Wilcoxen, who has been on the board for three years, said the school has come a long way in increasing transparency and accountability. With an open system already in place, Wilcoxen said he would now focus on finding ways to expand upon existing school programming without incurring additional costs.

“We can constantly make the program better … perhaps we can start teaching about green technologies,” said Wilcoxen. “We are a small school so it is hard to have big programs because it is expensive … I want to be able to deliver the system in the most economical and efficient way.”

For Wilcoxen, education is always his top priority, but he conceded that funding the school will always be an issue. He said the board worked very hard this year to winnow down the budget, but making drastic percentage cuts simple isn’t possible for the school.

Paring down the budget is a top priority for Noyac resident Ed Drohan. Drohan is currently a member of the Noyac Civic Council and the school’s budget advisory committee. Although Drohan lauds the elementary school and the special education program, he feels the school’s budget could use some restructuring. Some of Drohan’s ideas for the school include the slow introduction of employee attrition, enlarging classes slightly and phasing back certain elective programs. Drohan admits, however, that many of his ideas are preliminary and would take thorough planning and research. He would also like to see the computer science department expanded because he believes the ability to manipulate technology is an invaluable skill in today’s job market.

Drohan said one of the reasons he is running is to give a voice to local taxpayers who either are retired or have a second home in the community.

“I wanted to run as a community and taxpayer candidate … I take a different position than many of my counterparts in the board of education activities,” said Drohan.

Prospective candidate Elena Loreto believes she will represent a broader base of constituents, including the local taxpayer.

“I am a parent. I am retired. I was a teacher. I have been a local taxpayer for 32 years. I represent many factions of the district,” said Loreto. Like Drohan, Loreto is a member of the Noyac Civic Council and the Budget Advisory Committee. For Loreto, creating a good school board and an efficient school district is all about balance.

“The main priority for the current board members is to find the right balance between improving educational programs for the students, providing a fair wage for the faculty and also being mindful of what the average taxpayer can afford,” said Loreto.

As a former school teacher for 33 years in New York City and its suburbs, and a part-time substitute teacher at Sag Harbor and the Ross School, Loreto believes she has a unique insight to the school and how it operates. Among her chief priorities, Loreto would like the school to update the curriculum and offer programs that will teach job skills. Loreto recommends the school develop a mechanical drawing and architectural design class.

“We have to look at the curriculum in a more innovative way, so that kids will get the best possible program and the taxpayer will get the best buy for their buck,” opined Loreto.

Candidate Greg Schiavoni, whose children currently attend the elementary school, hopes to encourage student involvement with the school board. He hopes through student involvement the board will be able to sound off on what is working within the school and what can be improved upon.

Schiavoni feels it is imperative to maintain the Advanced Placement courses, but agrees there are perhaps additional ways the school could save money.

“We don’t necessarily need to look at cutting programs or taking away from higher educational program offerings, but there are probably things we could do to save money, and I hope to be one of the ones to help figure it out,” said Schiavoni.

Although Schiavoni is an active parent in the school district, he feels an obligation to represent the village taxpayer as well.

“I compare it to my own house. I have two children to raise and I have to be financially responsible about what we can or can’t afford for them. When [the school board] makes decisions everybody should know where the money is going and what it should be spent on,” added Schiavoni.

Candidates have until April 20 to drop off their signed petitions.