Friday, 31 July 2009 00:00
“Old soldiers never die - they just fade away.” was among the concluding comments of General Douglas MacArthur, on April 19, 1951, before a packed joint session of Congress. A week earlier, on April 11, 1951, President Harry S. Truman relieved MacArthur of his command as commander of United Nations forces for the General’s insubordination and unwillingness to conduct a limited war on the Korean peninsula.
And so, after a brilliant military career, spanning over a half century, MacArthur followed that old barracks refrain and “faded” from the public eye. Although he served as chairman of the board of directors of Remington Rand Corp., until his death in 1964, MacArthur made few public appearances.
Nearly six decades have elapsed since Douglas MacArthur uttered that old barracks refrain and another “old soldier,” albeit Herman A. Sirois, superintendent of Levittown Schools, has chosen to submit his letter of resignation to the school board, effective June 30, 2011. Contractual and confidentiality issues preclude me from discussing Dr. Sirois’ sudden decision to voluntarily submit his letter of resignation, accepted by the board of education (with five years and two abstentions) at our July 7 regular meeting.
It’s ironic that unlike the nationwide uproar over the removal of MacArthur from his command, nearly six decades ago, there hasn’t been a “peep” from the Levittown community over the imminent resignation of Dr. Sirois, who some consider to have a polarizing effect on the community. The silence, after nearly a month, has been deafening!
I’ve known Dr. Sirois since 1981, and weighed my vote carefully prior to abstaining from accepting his letter of resignation. It just doesn’t make sense, in my opinion! Dr. Sirois’ current contract, negotiated by a prior board, will expire on June 30, 2011. The current board is under no obligation to renew his contract, at that time, in light of the fact that his current base salary of $358,499, exclusive of benefits and perks, will increase another 7 percent to $383,594 during the contract’s final year.
The language of the resolution, drafted by Dr. Sirois, was highly self-laudatory and failed to reflect the numerous instances of failed initiatives and missteps which have caused Levittown residents millions of dollars in excessive taxes, during his tenure as superintendent of schools.
A sign on the desk of President Harry S. Truman probably said it best, “The Buck Stops Here.” Unfortunately, in spite of all his numerous achievements, Dr. Sirois, in my opinion, has consistently failed to personally accept responsibility for all the failures of his administration. You can’t have it both ways!
James P. Ward,
Board of Education Trustee