School Board Letters: From the community

cigar guyStick with the winners

Please join with me in voting for Tom Ham, Richard Petramale and Donald Tucker for the Saugerties School Board. These incumbents have a proven record of voting in a fiscally conservative manner while still providing quality education for the students of the Saugerties School District.

Tom Ham is a senior electric engineer and is the current vice president of the Board of Education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from SUNY Stony Brook.

Richard Petramale and Don Tucker are no strangers to Saugerties. They both work in the Saugerties area as a business owner and for the police department respectively. Both are graduates of the Saugerties School District and not only have the best interest of the students in mind but also the survival of the property tax payers.


The three individuals have worked hard to keep the property taxes below the 2 percent tax cap and have found that Superintendent Seth Turner is a cooperative team player. He has worked to identify places where money can be re-allocated rather than seeking more funding. A positive and cooperative working relationship with the board is key but Turner is also popular with the students and a frequent visitor knowing students by their first names.

Vote with me this week and stick with the winners – Tom Ham, Richard Petramale and Don Tucker for Saugerties school board.

Suzanne Van Wagenen



Maclary for School Board

I would like to endorse Mike Maclary’s candidacy for School Board. I have know him as parent and friend for years. I believe he has a good view of the schools and the town and village. His perspective will make a great addition to the Saugerties School Board.

Holly VanDerbeck



For our kids and community

I am writing in support of Mike Maclary, Bob Thomann and Jim Mooney for the School Board. These three individuals impressed me at the Meet the Candidates Night hosted by the League of Women Voters. Maclary, Thomann and Mooney are informed about current public education policy issues and they would be greatly beneficial to our School Board.

I am a mother of two children in the Saugerties District; for over a decade a very active member of the Cahill PTA; one of the founders of People Actively Committed to Education; also very involved in SLAM – Saugerties Library, Art and Music. In addition, I have been attending School Board meetings for at least ten years and I can say wholeheartedly and with deep conviction we need to elect Maclary, Thomann and Mooney for our kids and for our community.

Katie Cokinos



Strong schools, strong communities

I am writing in support of the three new candidates for Saugerties School Board: Maclary, Thomann and Mooney. Together, these fine candidates have experience as educators, insight as parents, and dedication as upstanding community members. These are the qualities necessary to provide forward-thinking, problem-solving, and cooperative guidance to our schools in these changing times. Strong schools build strong communities.

Susan Gunderud-Whitaker



A vote for Maclary, Thomann and Mooney

I am writing to share my enthusiastic support for Raymond Maclary, Bob Thomann and Jim Mooney for Saugerties School Board.

Saugerties is so fortunate to have these three dedicated candidates. I know them to be committed to public education and passionate about working to continue to improve our schools’ educational excellence.

They care about Saugerties and the quality of educational for all students. They each bring an expertise and excellent communication skills which are essential as we address the critical issues in education at this time.

Barbara Engel



Vote for transparency

We are in a season that allows our community to assess the quality and actions of our School Board. There have been defensive comments that can be attributable to the incumbents and proactive interests on the part of candidate Mike MacClary. Being on the School Board is a noble contribution to the community. The incumbents seem to feel that time in grade is the overriding quality for board members. A 20-year stint does not make or guarantee effective decision-making.

In light of the extended terms of the incumbents I would encourage a commitment to new faces. It seems that transparency is the code word in this cycle. Macclary and Thomann are committed to provide such. Your vote /support will be sincerely appreciated.

Ron LeBlanc



Remember how it used to be

Remember when the School Board and school budgets were out of control. Think back how many times our budget was so high that we had to vote it down multiple times in one year. Finally we got a School Board that listened to us. They made the tough choices, turning a $1.6 million deficit into a surplus while at the same time not cutting any programs and keeping school taxes under the 2 percent cap. Remember when your school taxes went up $500, $800, $1000 in one year. If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Return the incumbents Don Tucker, Tom Ham, Rich Petramale.

The challengers have made various critical statements. Let’s take a look at the facts.

“The kids have suffered.” We have a vibrant sports program, almost every kid gets to ride a school bus, classes are not overcrowded by any reasonable standard, the schools are clean and safe, all major educational programs are available in the district. The teachers are as good as any and better than many.

“The schools are in disrepair.” I drive past the buildings I see constant repairs and upgrades being done. I read the papers I’ve seen bids go out for improvements and repairs. I’ve attended meetings in various schools and haven’t seen any major problems.

“There is no transparency at the School Board.” Except where required by law, every meeting of the board is published and open to the public. They even videotape every board meeting and play it on public access TV. Every meeting is opened and closed with a public comment period. Printed copies of the meeting agenda and explanations of the motions to be voted on are available at each board meeting. Any specific information you want, that can be legally released, is readily available from the school administration.

The dirty name “special interest group.” What else would you call a group of people with similar interests? Our School Board has to deal with literally hundreds of topics during the year and they receive input from many people on virtually every topic. The only way to keep track of who’s on first and who’s heading for third is to group people together by their specific interest.

“Our kids have to take a test.” I took tests, you took tests, my kids took tests, you need to take a test to get a government job, you take a test to get most jobs, you need to take tests when you join the military. So what’s the big deal about the Common Core test. Nothing! The Common Core test is only a part of the system developed by each school district and the teachers union in that district to evaluate teacher performance. Why would any parent not want to know the quality of education their child is getting? Common Core may not be the perfect answer but it is a start. All this hullabaloo is about the state teachers union not wanting their members to be held accountable.


“The superintendent and BOE don’t listen to teachers and parents.” They most certainly do, far more than any other elected board I have ever seen. Everyone needs to understand that school districts operate under very strict state regulations and laws. The BOE and the superintendent have very little leeway in how they do things. There is nothing in the law that says you can opt out of a regulation. Common Core is a regulation, not an option. Opting out is just a nicer way of saying “civil disobedience” or “anarchy,” of which one should expect to suffer a penalty for doing. In the case of Common Core, all the taxpayers in Saugerties may very well pay the penalty in the form of higher taxes. When the board and the district has the leeway, they take action. One recent example: In response to safety concerns, the board held a public hearing and decided to rearrange the district schedule so students would not be in school on election day.

We have a fabulous, hard-working, concerned, diverse School Board. Tell them you appreciate their hard work. Return Don Tucker, Tom Ham, and Rich Petramale to our School Board.

Dan Ellsworth



Maclary will improve communication

I am writing on behalf of Raymond “Mike” Maclary. Mike is running for the School Board and deserves the support of the community of Saugerties, where he grew up and continues to live today. He has four children that attend the Saugerties Schools at each school level, elementary, junior high and senior high. He would like to see better communication between the School Board and the parents. Mike believes that members of the community should feel that they can offer suggestions and opinions in a “safe” environment. I encourage you to vote for Mike Maclary.

Peter Kramer



The dream team

I would like to introduce myself as a member of the “sinister” special-interest group you have read so much about lately. It’s true, my special interest is working to preserve public education for my child. Therefore, I would like to address some of the issues I have been reading about on this page recently.

I myself am tired of opening the paper to find yet another letter where the conversation is about anything but education and more about who can we bash this week or who can we blame for something. I believe that is it time we bring everyone’s attention back to what this election is really about: the educational wellbeing of our children.

Let’s bring the discussions and debates back to the challenges facing not only our district, but also our state and nation today: High-stakes testing, Common Core, local control of schools, improved school lunches, better teamwork and cooperation with parents and teachers, grant funding, indeed the list goes on and on. These are the issues in the upcoming Board of Education election.

Another discussion I hear and read about often is that of a feared increase in taxes. Let’s put that discussion to sleep right now. For those who are unaware, the School Board no longer controls this issue. In 2013 NY State implemented a property tax cap limiting the percentage amount by which taxes can rise each year. The Tax Cap applies to all school districts and local governments (i.e. counties, towns, villages and special districts) and is set at the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is less.

Overriding this rule requires a 60 percent supermajority, so it’s not going to happen easily or without your input as a voter and taxpayer.

We should be spending our time deciding on which candidates are best equipped to address the aforementioned challenges facing education today. I have heard people say that a teacher and an administrator working for other districts should not be on a School Board in the district in which they reside. I disagree. Who better to evaluate and compare everything from curriculum, to discipline, to contracts? Who better to provide informed insight and guidance in these times of significant educational change?

In my opinion, there are only three candidates running who are qualified to meet these challenges and move our schools forward in the best interests of the children in our community: Mike Maclary, Bob Thomann and Jim Mooney.

These three — parent, teacher and administrator — are a dream team for the Saugerties Board of Education! This election is about education and what is best for the children of Saugerties.

So, when you enter your local elementary school to vote, remember these three names, Maclary, Thomann and Mooney, the best qualified choice for our kids and our community.

Jill Trees