Tag Archive | "retirement"

Principal Will Retire, Says This Time She’s Sure

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Over her 20 year tenure at the Sag Harbor Elementary School, principal Joan Frisicano has amassed a collection of kid-friendly items in her first floor office. Glass dishes filled with lollipops and candy lay atop her conference table. Her floor to ceiling bookcases are lined with children’s books and student artwork decorates her walls.
Last fall, after Frisicano announced she would retire in January 2009, students taped color-paper renderings of Frisicano’s favorite insect, the lady bug, on her office windows. Even though Frisicano rescinded her decision in November, almost one week after her announcement, the lady bugs have stayed up.
But come September, the lady bugs along with the rest of Frisicano’s office belongings will be packed up as she will retire before the new school year begins.
“When I resigned back in the fall, it was a hasty decision. The reaction that I got from the community and teachers had a negative appearance and that wasn’t my intent. I didn’t want [my leaving] to be disruptive to the school,” said Frisicano of her first retirement announcement.
Frisicano added that she also decided to stay with the school through an uncertain budget year. With the possibility of program cuts if the school budget didn’t pass, Frisicano said she wanted to stay at the helm of the school and lend her experience if cuts had to be made.
Frisicano first came to the school in 1989. Under her leadership Sag Harbor Elementary flourished into a Blue Ribbon school, recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for its excellence.
“The school is a place where children are valued and they are eager to learn. We have a staff that is willing and equipped to provide outstanding instruction,” opined Frisicano. She added that offerings like “Morning Program” help create the feeling of a “school family,” a concept Frisicano has championed during her tenure.
“With Joan it is all about the kids,” said assistant principal Matt Malone.
Although retiring from her role as a Sag Harbor school administrator, Frisicano said she will likely pursue another position or different career.
“I started looking at where I am age-wise and I think I have one more step to go in my career, but I haven’t put my finger on it yet. All my thoughts right now are about leaving everything at the school in a good place,” Frisicano remarked. “I know I am not moving away. I can’t imagine any place better to live.”
The position of Bridgehampton School Superintendent will be up for grabs in the next year when current superintendent Dr. Dianne Youngblood retires, but Frisicano said she doesn’t have any intention of pursuing this post at the moment.
“I haven’t applied for that job. I am very happy with what I am doing here. I want to work through the summer and make sure that it is a smooth opening for next year,” remarked Frisicano.
As of yet, Frisicano hasn’t handed in her official letter of resignation to the board of education. Once the letter is submitted, the school will begin the search for a new candidate, said superintendent Dr. John Gratto. Dr. Gratto added, though, that the school is already eying a Sag Harbor administrator to fill Frisicano’s shoes.
“Typically, we would do a search to find the best candidate, but I believe that we already have the best candidate – Matt Malone. He understands the culture of the community,” said Dr. Gratto. “Joan has been thinking about retirement for over a year now and she has done an excellent job of grooming [him] for that position.”
Malone has been a member of the Sag Harbor School community for almost 14 years. For roughly four years, he has worked as assistant principal.
Of his candidacy for the position, Malone said “I love being a part of the Sag Harbor district. It has been an absolute pleasure working here. Working under Joan, I gained the knowledge and experience to be a solid candidate.”
Though Frisicano didn’t name Malone as a potential contender for the job, she did say the incoming principal should “be themselves.”
“I don’t believe in people trying to replicate somebody else. They should be their own thinkers,” remarked Frisicano.
Frisicano added she is excited to embark on the next phase of her career, but her exit from the school is bittersweet.
“A lot of who I am and who I identify myself as is [wrapped up in] this school,” lamented Frisicano. “I think September will come and I will probably be in shock.”

Principal Back Before She Left

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One week ago, the community learned that in January, Sag Harbor Elementary School would lose one of its most valuable assets — an administrator, a teacher, a guidance counselor, a mother and a grandmother — principal Joan Frisicano.

This week there were tears in the office of the elementary school – but they were tears of joy as news spread that Frisicano has reconsidered her decision to retire.

“I felt like my world was off kilter,” said Frisicano’s secretary Karen Mullen, with tears in her eyes.

Frisicano has been the principal and guiding force of the elementary school for 19 years and among many things, has developed the morning school program, which helped to turn the Sag Harbor Elementary into a Blue Ribbon school, an annual national school recognition program.


After announcing her decision to the board of education last Monday, and after telling her staff last Wednesday afternoon, Frisicano said she thought it might become easier to accept the fact that she would be leaving.

“None of that seemed to come together,” said Frisicano in an interview Wednesday.

Frisicano met with superintendent Dr. John Gratto in his office this past Monday and informed him that she would not be retiring after all. After the board of education’s executive session Tuesday night, Gratto announced to board members that Frisicano would not be stepping down.

On Wednesday, around 12:30 p.m. Frisicano told her staff during a lunchtime meeting that she had decided to renege on her original decision and would continue to stay on as principal of the elementary school.

Frisicano said on Wednesday that the decision to retire weighed very heavily on her heart, and added that she loves what she is doing. Frisicano explained that she imagined the decision would be easier — once she made the announcement she thought it would be easy to accept her retirement as reality but she added after it was all done she wasn’t able to cross over into that mindset.

“I had a feeling of emptiness,” Frisicano said on Wednesday. “I thought about all the work I’ve done and I thought about all the responses I got from the kids and staff,” and that, she said, helped her realize she wasn’t ready.

Frisicano said a feeling of “you’re not done” came over her and she felt she needed to keep moving forward with the job.

It is well known in the elementary school that Frisicano loves ladybugs. In her absence on Friday the students and staff members helped adorn the building, particularly her office, with red and black ladybugs, recognizing the hard work and dedication Frisicano has put into the school and also as a good-bye and thank you.

Frisicano said that helped her make the decision.

“We are a family,” she said, “I just thought, what can I do that I can’t do in Sag Harbor? You expect a reaction, but not the reaction that I had,” she added. 

“I have always had interests, I have my fun and still work, I thought I can continue to do this and still be the principal.”

Frisicano also said after speaking with her daughter over the weekend, who agreed that this job is what Frisicano loves, she decided to stay.

After she announced her resignation, many in the community raised questions about why she was leaving and why her retirement would go into effect in the middle of the school year.

“People thought I was being pushed out, but that was not the case,” Frisicano said on Wednesday. “I hope the community understands that the decision to retire was my decision, and the decision to change was my decision.”

Frisicano said that part of her reason for leaving was that she wanted a new challenge in her life.

“And a new challenge looked attractive to me,” although she said she had no plans for what that would be, she said she just thought she would be able to find it.

“But then,” Frisicano said, “I realized that this job can still be a challenge.”


“Welcome back,” school board president, Walter Wilcoxen said on Wednesday, “Here’s a woman that has worked hard in this district and made the elementary school what it is now, she has been a great asset to our district.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, where Gratto told the board of education about Frisicano’s decision to stay, the group was discussing the next and final steps for confirming Frisicano’s retirement. Close friend and former school board president, Sandi Kruel, said that Frisicano was supposed to have submitted a letter of resignation, which would’ve made her decision final, but Frisicano did not submit the letter.

“I am so happy,” Kruel said. “She is just not done with our district, and I’m thrilled she is staying.”

“I was ready to petition or sit out, whatever it took – we were hoping that she would realize that this was not the right decision,” said Kruel, who believes as the week progressed Frisicano could not go through with it. “Her family is here, her roots are here.”

Kruel also said that she feels this is a good decision, “Kudos to Joan, the board and Gratto – it’s now a team again.”

Last year, Sag Harbor’s board of education considered adding an assistant superintendent position, which has not been created. When asked if the administrative structure of the district faces any changes, Gratto said when he began working in the district people were asking him that question. He replied that he needs a sufficient amount of time to determine any changes and will be able to report and recommend any changes in December. It will then be up to the board of education to decide whether to follow those recommendations.

“Joan is a very talented person who has done a great job of administrating that school and I’m sure she will continue to do a great job,” Gratto said on Wednesday. “I would be happy to have her stay for as long as she wants.”

When asked what her long and short-term goals for the district would be Frisicano said she would need to give it some more thought but added she thinks that Gratto has been positive about the school district and hopes together they can work on accomplishing more in grades K-12 with a continued articulation between both schools.

Frisicano explained that with Gratto, she hopes to accomplish both state and national recognition for the schools where she can focus on getting the elementary school back to a Blue Ribbon school.

While Frisicano said on Wednesday that it is possible she will retire within the next 10 years, she isn’t thinking about going anywhere for at least the next five years.

“I still haven’t finished with this,” she said.




Cops and Town Debate Retirement

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Southampton Town Board, PBA, and attorneys

Southampton Town Supervisor Linda Kabot, along with the rest of the town board, sat opposite Southampton town’s finest men in blue backed by men in black — their attorneys — at town hall on Tuesday. Each of the lawyers presented their clients’ side of issues surrounding the retirement, social security laws and criteria for why six longtime officers were left off a continuation of service list earlier this year.

The meeting was called for after a protest on August 26 at town hall where officers brought attention to a proposal that could have given Southampton Town Police Chief, James Overton, authority to force policemen to retire after 20 years of service. The resolution that was proposed listed 20 officers whose contracts will be renewed, but it left six others off this list. That resolution was tabled immediately at that August meeting, but the public along with officers and members of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) were still able to voice their concerns that night.

On Tuesday, attorney for the PBA Seth Greenberg, presented to the board the four options police can opt into for retirement. He argues that a 1990 collective bargaining agreement between the town and the PBA allows policemen to put in more than 20 years of service.

“This is to encourage the veteran and not to deprive the employer,” he commented, “A police officer’s pension is based on two things; years of service and his final salary.” He then quoted the State Constitution, “membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.”

Vince Toomey, labor counsel for the Town of Southampton, said  “The union has been very consistent, Mr. Greenberg laid out these points and I understand the union’s position – and I don’t agree with hardly any of it.”

Toomey handed out a letter which was sent to the state in 1971, stating that, “If the town of Southampton elects to adopt the optional 20 year retirement plan for its town police department, each member of such department shall be separated from service at the end of 20 years unless service is extended by the town board on an annual basis.” The letter was drafted by the Town of Southampton and the PBA. Toomey added that it was important to “honor your agreements.”

 “The New York State comptroller seems to agree with our interpretation,” Greenberg said. “It outlines who the employer is and it would suggest that there are four separate plans that this is in fact accurate — the concern is those individuals that have been excluded from this.”

The lawyers continued to argue over their interpretation of the retirement laws. Toomey said the statutes are supposed to be read together.

“If you have two statutes you can harmonize. You are not supposed to read these as one nullifies the other,” he said.

But Greenberg stated that there is an “inability to harmonize retirement plans – we can continue to disagree because harmonizing of statutes will not work in this instance.”

Greenberg also suggested that the town used an unfair criteria in determining which individuals would be left off the list for continuation of service.

Kabot explained that former supervisor Patrick “Skip” Heaney asked Chief Overton to produce a list at the end of last year of officers he would keep on the list for continued service. Chief Overton says he relied on a five-year review of attendance and evaluated officers with 20 years of service or more, and then proposed a list to give to the board this past year excluding the six who had missed more days.

“Sick time wasn’t taken into consideration. It was actual days worked,” said Overton in explaining how he made his decision.

Harry Greenberg, another attorney for the PBA, commented, “This is the first time I’m reading Patrick Heaney’s statement and nowhere in here does it say what criteria the chief should use. What’s interesting is — having never met Chief Overton, but working with chiefs across the county — I know that he knows there is more to look at than the number of times an officer comes to work.”