Somewhat to his lingering surprise, Connecticut Yankee Pascal “Pat” Forgione found a home in Austin.
After overseeing education programs in Connecticut in the 1980s and crunching numbers in Washington, D.C., in the ’90s, Forgione came to town in 1999 to be the Austin Independent School District’s new superintendent.
It was a tough time, with some schools failing and a bond rating so toxic it may as well have had a skull and crossbones on it. He cites a number of successes, including boosting that bond rating and helping open the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, by the time he left in 2009.
“Austin was the hardest work I ever did,” said Forgione, who’s now 70. “I was the seventh superintendent in the ’90s. I used to joke I was 6 feet tall when I started that job. Man, they kicked the hell out of me the first couple of years.”
Forgione wasn’t long between jobs. He soon joined the nonprofit Education Testing Service’s small Austin operation as distinguished presidential scholar and executive director of a center that focused on K-12 assessment and performance management. He did that for six years until stepping down in early July.
“I have this mantra: I like to begin well and end well,” he said. “Our center was getting 18,000 (virtual) visitors a month. Sixty-five hundred were downloading documents. We caught the right issues.”
Forgione’s given himself a sabbatical until the end of the year. He and his wife, Kaye Forgione, are doing a good bit of travel domestically to visit sons and granddaughters as well as internationally.
“It’s so neat to see them getting ready for school and know you’re not responsible for their education,” Forgione said of his grandchildren.
He also plans to give back to his adopted community by serving on a few boards. He and Kaye are also both hardy travelers who like to walk and take in the history. They recently took a riverboat trip on the Rhine.
And together they’ve got a bucket list goal to visit every major-league baseball park in the country. They’ve already checked five off the list: New York, Baltimore, Cincinnati, St. Louis and Kansas City.
“There’s one bad thing, though,” Forgione said. “The visitors won all five games we were at. We’re sitting there cheering for the home team but we’re the visitors’ best asset.”