Richard Bucci - 1972
When Richard Bucci departed Binghamton's Catholic Central High School for St. Bonaventure University in 1972, his aim was to become a social studies teacher. He ventured into politics instead, but now has come full circle as principal at his old school, now known as Seton Catholic Central.
"It's kind of surreal being the principal of a high school you went to," Bucci said with a laugh. "I don't how many others there are, but there can't be many of us."
There are even fewer who have had a distinguished career in state and local government, including service as a legislative aide in Albany and three, four-year terms as mayor of his hometown.
Bucci prefers to leave the politics to others these days, but says he'll provide counsel to (current Mayor Rich) David when asked - just as he did with Binghamton's previous mayor, Matthew T. Ryan.
After leaving the mayor's office, Bucci went back to his education roots and looked for work in the local school districts. There was an opening for director of curriculum development at the Vestal Central School District. He filled that role for nearly six years before the job at Seton opened.
His plate is full these days because in addition to serving as principal, he also is the leader of Broome County Catholic Schools, which now consist of three K-6 elementary schools and grades 7-12 at the high school on Seminary Avenue. After decades of closures and mergers among the local Catholic schools, Bucci said the commitment to the four school system is firm and has produced some positive results.
He said a decision three years ago to move the seventh and eighth grades to the high school has had a positive impact on the students, and the school and has reduced the rate of students leaving the system and switching to public schools after eighth grade. Stabilizing the elementary schools, meanwhile, has eliminated much of the concern that caused some parents to shy away from starting their children in a school with an uncertain future. Bucci said that's important because Catholic educators understand the viability of the elementary schools will determine the future of the high school. Some critics note that Bucci's own children attended public schools, but he explained the decision was primarily financial.
"We really just couldn't afford it, and we were really reluctant to ask for aid," he said. But he has always been a supporter of Catholic schools, which he views as a community asset. As mayor, he made sure city signs carried the team emblems of both the Patriots (Binghamton High) and Saints (Seton).
Bucci noted that while the scale is different, there are similarities between running a city and leading a school district.
"One of the biggest is financial viability," he said. "There's also the sense in both of constituent services, being conscious of your stakeholders and trying to keep them informed and being accessible to them - that's important regardless of where you are."
RICHARD A. BUCCI
Age: 60 Wife: Sue Children: Daughters Caroline and Liz; son Peter. Education: B.A. from St. Bonaventure (1976), Masters in Education from University of Scranton (1979), Certificate of Advanced Study from SUNY Cortland (2006).
Leadership philosophy: "I think you have to articulate a vision of where you are and where you want to go, and be committed to that vision. You have to show that you want to be an agent of change for the better."
Excerpted with permission and thanks from the Binghamton Press & Sun Bulletin, May 7, 2014