School Board Letters: From the candidates

mailSchool Board culture must change

My name is Robert Thomann and I am running for the for the Board of Education with the Saugerties School District. I have 35 years experience in public education and previously served on the Saugerties Board from 2011-2014. I am a member of the School Administrators Association of New York State. As a member of their Government Relations Committee I meet with the Commissioner of Education and members of the New York State Assembly and Senate to advise them on educational policy and advocate for the needs of school districts in New York State. Among my most recent conversations in Albany we discussed students opting out of Common Core aligned testing, new teacher evaluation procedures, school receivership and Smart Schools technology application. It is my belief that I bring a unique set of skills to the board. I believe that I am highly qualified to represent the citizens of Saugerties. From my previous term on the board I know that I can make the time commitment If elected.

Despite what you may have read in previous letters to the editor there is no plot or conspiracy to remove the superintendent, board president or any administrator in the Saugerties district. It is unfortunate that candidates seeking a spot on the board cannot be welcomed for their desire to help the community. Rather it seems that storylines are invented to cast fear and doubt about the possibility of change on the School Board. Part of my reason for deciding to run is my belief that the culture of the Board of Education needs to change. New membership on the board is one way to begin to build a positive culture with the stakeholders they serve.

The school district is facing several important issues including coping with the Common Core aligned test and parents growing unhappiness with them, the unfunded mandates the state is imposing on the district in implementing new regulations for the teacher evaluation(APPR) process, a district long-range technology plan on how the 1.9 million dollars the district is eligible to receive from the Smart Schools bond act can best be used to increase the educational outcomes for all students and the abysmal 39 percent graduation rate for students that receive special education services. I believe that a board members time is best spent working with the superintendent and the community to find the best possible way to meet these challenges. The politics of attack through the letters to the editor by members of the BOE needs to become part of the ancient history of Saugerties. We need to show our children that there is a better way.


Jim Mooney, Mike Maclary and I share the vision that the district can and must improve and that the way to accomplish this is by facing the issues rather than focusing on fears of conspiracy. I thank all of you who have shown all of us a tremendous amount of support during our campaign. Together we can make a difference.

Robert Thomann



Challenges met

My name is Don Tucker. I am running for a third term on the Board of Education along with fellow board members Rich Petramale and Tom Ham.

It is not my intent to criticize any candidate seeking a position on the board. Instead I will proudly tell you that Rich Petramale, Tom Ham and I have worked very hard for the district and have successfully tackled every issue that has come before us. We’ve made tough decisions on the budgets, buildings, curriculum, contracts and, most importantly, the students. We’ve sought out and put in place valuable administrators, business personnel and teachers who collectively make a difference in the daily lives of our students. The district has gone from a position of very serious debt to a positive, healthy fund balance. There is much more work to do and with your support we will get it done.

We have a wonderful school district, great students, great teachers and support staff and a top-notch superintendent. I take pride in the part that we’ve played to make it that way. We ask for your ongoing support because through your trust and support, and our hard work, we will continue to make a positive difference in our students’ lives. Thank you.

Donald G. Tucker



A new phase of education

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone that has supported me during this run for School Board. I have met many wonderful people from around the town and village who also share my enthusiasm and wish to bring about change.

There seems to be some concerns about my profession amongst some members of the community. I would like to let them know that education is priority number one. The fact that I am a teacher also has some people wondering about the upcoming contract negotiations with the teachers of the district. Contracts are usually negotiated between the superintendent and business manager‘s offices and the teachers’ union. Any contract terms come from them, and the BoE would vote to either approve it or reject it. The comment about “Flamboyant spending of the past” also needs to be corrected as the budget is also decided by the superintendent and business manager’s offices. There is also a 2 percent tax cap that is in place to keep spending down.

I would like to think it to be an asset to have people who are active in the field of education to serve on the BoE. I harbor neither prejudice nor animosity towards anyone on the board or in the district. I simply feel that a change is needed to address changing times. Education reform is in high gear, and with 20 years experience, I can lend my insight to help navigate Saugerties through these turbulent waters.

It is my desire to bring about a new phase of education in Saugerties, where everyone is welcome, appreciated and involved. I also feel that Mike Maclary and Bob Thomann share this vision as well.

It is up to the people of Saugerties, to either usher in change or stay the course. Ask yourself…are our schools and students better prepared today than they were a decade ago? If the answer is no, please vote for Maclary, Thomann and Mooney. Together we can make change happen, and better prepare our children for the future.

James Mooney