Week of February 18, 2001

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Diversity coalitions : One Thread

Discussion of topics for SOS.

-- Anonymous, February 18, 2001


Here's a brief update on what we accomplished during Saturday's meeting:

We need to discuss some questions for the upcoming meeting on February 23, this Friday!! It is the meeting regarding the Onteora Buyilding plan and modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia. Please submit any questions or topics to the list here on the SOS bbs.

Erik will design and open up the SOS calendar - Done already!

Erik has stated that he believes that SAC will endorse BOE candidates this year.

Morty will actively pursue voter lists from various sources. He also has a voter form which he is asking people to fill out and send to him in a timely manner. He is hoping for 2500 names. This will help in getting out the vote and contacting constituants.

Morty is also planning strategies and mechanisms which will help us to get out the vote. He will also get the voter registration and absentee ballots info together.

Curry will be gathering info on the 2001 budget so that we keep our facts together and are able to address in a concise manner.

Maureen Millar will gather info on the modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia. We are hoping to stress accountability for the BOE's past actions to clarify the current crisis.

On Saturday March 3, We will have our next SOS meeting. This should will be the meeting in which we ask candidates to appear and ask them a series of questions to answer to our group. The questions will tend to be less issue oriented and of a more general nature regarding educational policies. Jim and Sharon will be compiling the questions (6-8) to be asked. If anyone would like to help please submit question ideas to this board and we will edit them nad present them back here for approval.

Maureen made a good case for not endorsing candidates too soon so that we are comfortable as a group with our decision.

Melissa had a helpful discussion explaining the Onteora policies toward Special Education. The idea of inclusion and the districts implementation of inclusion were defined. This is an interesting question for the candidates at our next SOS candidates meeting. "How do you feel about the policy of inclusion for Special Ed at Onteora?" Should it be expanded or limited? Perhaps Melissa can help draw up the best question.

We are also looking for someone to write the SOS mission statement on this bbs so that we can finalize it by Friday or Monday the 26th at the latest. This is needed, not only for us, but the public to understand what are our goals and purpose. Anyone want to take the first try at it?

I will be giving access to the list to Maureen Millar and Irene Brody as no one has objected to the suggestion that I made on the recent group e-mail.

Please try to keep SOS corespondance on the SOS bbs rather than on personal e-mail unless , of course, it needs to be confidential or personal. I am trying to streamline my schedule to enable me to perform as SOS president and I'm sure that would help me and others as well. Thanks.

-- Anonymous, February 19, 2001

Budget info 2/19/01

Most of this information came from a conversation with Meg Carey:

This year’s budget process begins next Monday, 2/26, at the BOE meeting, with the first group of departmental reports. Each department head will make a presentation explaining their budget requests for next year. This is a wish list, and is expected to be cut, but that comes later. The most interesting presentation most likely will be Mike Grail, the Transportation Department. The financial success or failure of the privatization of most of the bus routes will be revealed for the first time. Expect big cost overruns to be revealed, resulting in blame casting and self righteous posturing. The Special Ed budget will be presented also, and all the other departments, and this process will conclude at the meeting 3/5. Public input at each of these meetings is extremely important! On 3/19, Hal Rowe will present the Superintendent’s Preliminary Budget, and we can expect the fan to be hit with you know what. What will most certainly be revealed is a double digit tax spike, and Hal will be asked to cut, cut, cut. Historically, Hal Rowe has brought great openess to the budget process, releasing info more widely and earlier than in the past. However, when it comes to cost cutting, we can expect him to ask for guidance from the BOE. Last year, when this happened, the board refused, sent the budget back without real cuts, and it was defeated by only 90 votes. Some members of the board majority actively campaigned against the budget, which is an outrageous contradiction of their responsibility. This year will be much worse. We’re in a bubble this year: despite the austerity budget, programs havn’t been cut because of 2 budget revenues from last year: the rollover of the large unspent fund balance ($1.3 million) and the retirement package savings ($800,0000). This year, this won’t happen. Soooo, even the tightest budget will mean a big tax spike, and who will decide what to cut? Will the board be able to set priorities that make sense, and make cuts that work? What roll will Hal play, since the majority will surely want to blame him, and all the other department heads, when things get rough. And if the budget is defeated again, and we get another austerity budget, the only alternative will be to cut both staff and programs, and even then, there will still be a tax spike. In fact, as money is running out this year, we may find, within the next few weeks, that programs will have to be cut this spring!! This is big. I’ll be doing research on past budgets, other district’s budgets, etc., but the info on this year’s budget will be coming out in the next few weeks, so tune in, speak up, and tell all your friends..... Curry

-- Anonymous, February 19, 2001

Curry: I found this on the New York State School Boards Association Web site...
87 percent of school budgets passed (on the first try) in 2000. The approval rate was above the 81.3 percent average from 1969 to 1999, but below the record rates of 1998 (93.5 percent) and 1999 (92.7 percent).
Source: New York State Education Department

I guess Onteora was part of the 13 percent that failed. What do the other districts know that we do not?

-- Anonymous, February 19, 2001

Hey great job on the web site ,eric.Thanks. I do hope this can become a site that can be advertised, making useful info available to a wider audience. In response to Eric's ? re: last years budget failure, I doubt there are too many commu7nities that have three or more board members actively working against the budget. It was payback time for the mascot.I feel quite differently than Terry's comments at SOS mtg.,when she felt failure to make budget smaller resulted in defeat the second time around.Payback,payback,payback. Plus ,I believe a heavily scrutinized budget is exactly what Doan was looking for in order to better take his axe to the expenditures. I have a document from last years process that was requested by JD. A line by line itemizing of the budget 98-99 , that indicates what part of that budget allocation went unspent that year.I expect JD's budget attacks this year to aim primarily at that target. Quite alot of money in some cases and indeed I think it is generally done in order to keep $ available to the school, that is not in the unexpended fund balance. Likely not very kosher, but also likely very helpful.you watch. If he goes after that he may even avoid some of the huge tax increases we are imagining.Budget education simplified should be job 1.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2001

Maureen and I have been gathering info on the 4 transportable modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia which we feel is important info to share for the upcoming BOE meeting on buliding projects on Friday.

Here are the stats on just the 2 transportable modulars at Bennett. Maureen will be providing the data on the 2 modulars Phoenicia.

At Bennett, the modulars house the Special Ed classroom which is Ms. Misler's regular class with 13 students in the room at least 60 percent of the time. Some students use the class all day, some are in inclusion.

The other class is the Music Room shared by Mrs. Leonard and Mr. Schubert. This is where children learn vocal music, chorus and band. The room houses all the instruments for the program as well. The room is too small to house all the students in band or chorus at the same time so that the Bennett chorus has 2 seperate classes with 45 children in each. The same with the band. My impression is that they neve get to practice together until they meet on the stage to rehearse for a performance.

Here's the timeline and some, as of yet, unsubstantiated facts regarding the current lease agreement of these modulars which we are currently trying to substantiate via a FOIL request at the BOE office.

The owner of the transportable modulars is a man in New Jersey named Erat. He has rented these modulars to the district for 8 years and when the contract renewal was due last year, he offered to lease them to the district for the sum of $31,000 per year for three years. This negotiation began in August before the start of the 2000-2001 school year.

Mr. Doan objected to the continued cost of these modulars and felt we could get a better lease deal from him if we negotiated. So the BOE rejected the lease offer from Erat by not acting upon the initial 3 year proposal. Erat, in apparent good faith, responded with a further proposal of a 1 year lease at $40,000/year or a 5 year lease at $31,000/year. Deadlines for the proposal were not met. The BOE decided to place $33,000 in an escrow account of which to eventually pay Erat for the 2000-2001 year even though Erat proposed $40K. Doan pressed for a 1 year lease at $31,000 which, with all the stalling, enraged Erat so that he is planning to remove the modulars in June, 2001.

At present there is no lease agreement with Erat and there has been no payment for the use of these modulars this year.

The cost of the lease at $40K/year to the district amounts to each classroom costing $10K apiece for the year or $3,333/month/4 units or $833/month/unit.

Rumors have circulated as to possible plans to help eliminate the forecoming crisis at Bennett. One is to redistrict and integrate all the 6th graders into the high school and, although many educators feel this is appropriate, the public sentiment is that this is an unwise move.

Another rumor is that the Bennett kindergarten will be redistiricted into Woodstock and West Hurley.

The BOE has requested that the school prinicipals draw up a plan to solve the upcoming problem but this has not yet been made public.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2001

More research has revealed that the owner of the transportable modulars is named Erat and he had a company called Associated Construction Concepts, PO Box 266, Campbell Hall, NY 10916. Although everyone says he is from NJ. ACC was dissolved in 9/92 so even the first lease contract with Onteora did not have a legitimate name on it because ACC was not a registered company in NYS. This is what caused Doan not to pay them after Meg and the board voted to renew the contract in 11/99. He found this out and began to question the whole arrangement. Hal Rowe claims that this first contact was something that had been arranged and was waiting for him when he first came to Onteora in 1994.

The first lease ran three years from 7/94 until 6/97 and cost the district $258,000 or $86,000/year.

The second lease ran from 9/97 until 8/00 and was for $132,000 or $44,000/year.

The latest lease agreements were in the stages of negotiation when the talks broke down. The first rate of $31,104 was for 5 years and was built into the previous lease. It was voted upon and approved on 11/15/99 and to be effective 9/00 but at Doan's insistance a disclaimer was added to the motion to assure the board that ACC is capable of doing business with the district. This is where the discrepancy was discovered that Erat had no longer had ACC registered to do business in NYS. So with that caveat, Doan then decided not to renew the lease by the board not responding in a timely manner. Negotiations went back and forth with threats of suits and removal until 9/27/00 when Erat responded through his attorney that his final offer would be as follows:

Remove the units within 60 days


Pay $40K for the remainder of the school year and remove them in June, 2001


Renew the lease for 3 years at $31,000 per year.

A check was made out by OCS to ACC in 12/00 for $31,000 and is being held in escrow with the attorneys because of the name of the coorporation mishap. It is the clear understanding of Hal Rowe that the modulars will be removed in June 2001 by Mr. Erat.

Throughout all of the history of the leases, the Onteora School district had the option of purchasing the modulars.

The estimated cost of moving the Bennett kindergarten alone and busing those students to West Hurley and Woodstock will require two bus runs estimated conservatively at a cost to the district of $60,000 per year.

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2001

Wow! I'm always amazed at what else could happen. So, I'm learning not to be amazed anymore. The numbers and facts have to make an impression. I'm talking to shandaken neighbors...I'm experiencing cautious friends who agree the boe is out of control...this may push it over the edge. I can't wait to see the papers this week. See ya at fridays boe meeting. Melissa

-- Anonymous, February 20, 2001

Is this true: if the modulars are removed and students are bussed, then there will be cost at least $29,000/year more, to be in a way worse situation than we're already in...... unbelievable!

But, we can get back to where we are now by signing a new lease for the next 3 years at $31,000/year, save that money, and have time to hopefully come up with an acceptable, long term solution, yes?

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

I talked with Jim last night about letting you know I am here and occasionally visiting this bulletin board, since I'm one of the STAND members who actually set up the board. While I am still very busy with STAND matters (I'm in the midst of putting together a fairly substantial website about the Indian mascot issue, which won't be released until after the election), and thus won't be able to make it to SOS meetings, I figured I'd give SOS any input I could on the bbs, at least.

Fantastic job you are doing on researching the modular figures. Erik, that NYS School Board link you just gave is a very important one. I was looking at it a bit yesterday. There is a lot in it about the school board member being a state education official. In last year's elections it seemed accepted by the winning board members (and by the public) that their duty and obligation was to the taxpayers who elected them. However, the school board association website seems to state very clearly that as education officials they are responsible to the students. I think that it should be made clear in this election that the only special interest group who counts is the students.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Please check out the article in the Catskill Mountain News by Jay Braman. It is an article on the Onteora School district and it's focus is on the modulars and busing the kindergartners. It seems that Jay called up Doan to ask him about it and he suggested that the plan was to bus the kindergarten students from both Phoenicia and Bennett to Woodstock and West Hurley in September.

Doan is quoted as saying, "Move the kindergartners, that's the easiest way," he said, "it wouldn't be a big deal."

Doan had no figures on the cost of the transportation. Some students will be bused 30 miles one-way.

Asked if the busing plan would be unpopular with parents in the Phoenicia area, Doan said no.

I have looked at figures for transportation, which were substantiated by Mike Grehl, and found that the busing cost will run over $100,000 a year to implement this plan. Compare this to the $31,000 to $40,000 per year to rent the modulars. That seems to me to be a net lose of $60-69,000 per year.

There may be other costs associated with the modulars but they seem minor compared to the busing. There are rumors of mold problems but I have yet to confirm that this exists in these modulars.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

The students' questions are in.
At today's Student Affairs Council meeting the following questions were agreed upon as the ones to which students' would most like to hear responses from potential candidates. There are certainly more questions here than we will want to ask, and I am sure others have concerns not addressed by this set, but I hope as many as possible will be included. I will be away for the next four days, but please tweak them amongst yourselves; feel free to combine, flesh out, or edit any of them for improvement. To ensure fairness, it is imperative that these questions are not divulged to any of the interviewees.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Jim, when you give a false name but a real ISP, it generates an email that tells us the message has bounced. You'll need to give an undeniably fake ISP address on those.

Due to the frames on the "a href=" http://www.nyssba.org/index.html">NYSSBA site, I'll talk you through. On the left-hand menu, click on "About NYSSBA," then "Introduction to NYSSBA." Click the "School board members" link within the text, and then read the sections available.

Some relevant points:

"School Board Member's Role" says: "A member of a board of education in New York State takes on one of the most important responsibilities that can be assigned to any citizen: helping to plan the education of the state's youth.

A school board member in New York State serves as a state official."

"What makes a good school board member?" says: " A board member must be able to provide today's kind of education for today's children. He or she must understand the forces of change in society and foresee their potential effects on the district.

Tolerant and free of prejudice, a board member must be responsive to the human needs of individuals and groups. He or she must bear in mind that, as a state official, his or her responsibility is to all the state's children."

They give quite a good bibliography of books that should be on school board members' shelves in that section. Would be fun to ask each candidate what books on education each candidate had read in the past year. Okay, in the past three years if that's too hard. No? Well, how about asking if they had _ever_ read a book about education?

I keep wishing for a school full of little children chanting:"Mommy, where's my modular? Gone back to New Jersey, HAR HAR HAR"

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Thanks Carol.

Reader beware but here is a timeline chronology of the actual modular transcripts which I have tried to abridge. Please read and let me know if you think that it is appropriate as a handout at the BOE meetings on Friday. Thanks. Jim

Modulars and Transportation at the Bennett and Phoenicia Schools


The modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia were owned by a corporation named Associated Construction Concepts (ACC) and have reportedly been transferred to an individual named Mr. Eratt who was the principal owner of that corporation.

A history of the leases and arrangements and board correspondence is revealing:

The first lease ran three years from 7/94 until 6/97 and cost the district $258,000 or $86,000/year.

The second lease ran from 9/97 until 8/00 and was for $132,000 or $44,000/year.

The latest lease agreements were in the following stages of negotiation when the talks broke down. The first lease offer, at this stage, was for 5 years at the rate of $31,104/year. This was built into the previous lease agreement and had to be exercised 9 months before that lease expired.

It was voted upon and unanimously approved by the Onteora Board of Education on 11/15/99 and to be effective on 9/01/00. But at Mr. Doan's urging, a disclaimer was added to the motion in order to assure the board that ACC is legally capable of doing business with the district. The disclaimer stated that approval of the lease was "subject to proof of legality that the lessor (ACC) is capable of doing business with the school district".

Discrepancies that called into question ACC's ownership of the modulars and ACC's ability to do business in NYS were the reasons for this disclaimer.

Meanwhile, on 11/19/99, the Onteora board requested and received from Eratt a 2-month extension for the District to exercise its option to renew the lease. On 2/29/00 Onteora sent a letter to Eratt stating it's intention to renew the lease on the condition that NYS tax leins were to be met by ACC.

In subsequent correspondence, Mr. Eratt, through his lawyer, claimed that ownership of the modulars would be transferred to him, from ACC. An 8/23/00 letter from the law firm of Donaghue, Thomas, Auslander and Drohan, representing the Onteora Central School District, stated that the lawyer for Mr. Eratt has proposed entering the lease agreement with Mr. Eratt who will be acquiring title to the modular units from ACC. Mr. Eratt also offered to indemnify the District for any claims or tax leins against the modulars. The District law firm researched this issue andwrote that the NYS Tax Department stated that while the tax leins would not be lifted as a result of the transfer of ACC to Mr. Eratt, the party who would bear the burden of satisfying the lein would be Mr. Eratt, the prospective owner, and not the District, as Tenant. The Onteora BOE had a Workshop Meeting on 9/11/00 and Mr. Doan submitted a document entitled exhibit "A" that states, "I do not think that we should not review the lease for another 5 years (sic). The overcrowding condition at Bennett lends a sense of urgency to address this problem within the very near future. Whatever our conclusion is, it will probably not include the use of these units as a way of reducing overcrowding."

The Onteora Board responded to Mr Eratt on September 22, 2000 by requesting that:

· Mr. Eratt provides the district with a corporate resolution showing that Eratt has acquired title to the modulars from ACC.

· Mr. Eratt provide the District with a performance bond or escrow account in an amount sufficient to restore the property on which the modulars have been installed in to it's original condition should the parties not renew the lease.

· The District is provided with Mr. Eratt's residence address and SS number so the District can send him a 1099 form.

· Mr. Eratt provides the District with proof that Mr. Eratt has clear and marketable title to the modulars. And to notify Mr. Eratt that the District will be conducting a title search to verify title on the modulars.

Mr. Eratt's lawyer responded on 9/27/00 by claiming that Mr. Eratt has "no problem providing indemnification for any claims regarding ownership..." and that Onteora's objection regarding Mr. Eratt's ownership of the buildings is "without standing". "The fact that ownership of the building has transferred from Mr. Eratt's corporation to him personally is of no consequence to your client" (Onteora). The letter from Eratt's lawyer further stated that Mr. Eratt did not object to Onteora's "request for a reasonable extension of the lease deadline and that this deadline and a more than a reasonable extension is long past". "Your client's delay has prevented my client from removing the units to another customer as now school has begun". And "Mr. Eratt has authorized me to take whatever action is necessary to effectuate return of the units".

Mr. Eratt further proposed the "only three viable alternatives" as follows:

Remove the units within 60 days or Pay $40K for the remainder of the school year and Eratt will remove them in June, 2001 or Renew the lease for 3 years at $31,000 per year.

Throughout all of the history of the leases, the Onteora School district had the option of purchasing the modulars. It was available, and stipulated in the lease, in 1999, for $120,000 but subject to voter approval.

Transportation Costs

The estimated cost of moving the Bennett kindergarten alone and busing those students to West Hurley and Woodstock will require two bus runs estimated, conservatively, at a cost to the district of $50,000 - $60,000. The cost of transporting the kindergarten students from the Phoenicia School to Woodstock and West Hurley would be conservatively estimated to be $50,000 - $60,000 per year. (A single bus run is approximately $25,000- $30,000 per year at Onteora)

If the decision is made to transport all the kindergarten students from Phoenicia and Bennett to Woodstock and West Hurley in 2001, the transportation cost alone is estimated to be over $100,000 per year. Mr. Grehl, head of the Onteora transportation department, has provided and supported these approximate figures.

The cost, in 2001, of the Bennett and Phoenicia modulars for a three-year lease is $31,000 per year as offered in the last lease negotiation with Eratt. The plan to bus the kindergarten students from Bennett and Phoenicia will cost the Onteora taxpayers an additional $69,000 per year.

As suggested at the last meeting on buildings, the shortest time frame to get NYSBOE approval and to build an addition on any of the schools is, at a minimum, 1˝ years after voter approval. The election is mid-May, 2001. Any addition to either Bennett or Phoenicia would not be complete until mid-November 2002. The transportation costs for this period of time would amount to approximately $130,000 whereas the cost of renting the modulars at $31,000 per year would be $93,000 for a 3-year lease but minus the cost we have already incurred for this year would bring the actual cost to $62,000 for 2 years. This would still save the district $68,000 in transportation costs during the time of construction if the modulars were kept.

Construction also requires voter approval. By keeping the modulars, if the voters do not approve a capital improvement bond, at least the classrooms would be available for the students which by the above analysis proves to be less expensive than busing to Woodstock and West Hurley.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Anyone know of Dan Schnieider of Woodstock. He has picked up a nominating petition for the board.

-- Anonymous, February 21, 2001

Jim: I know Dan Schnieder, I'll call him to find out what's comin down and report back more fully....

Regarding release of the modular report at tomorrow's meeting: Yes, definitely release it in its entirety, it's a great report and the timing is perfect, but I'd like to see it in this context: •A short journalistic summary at the top: the report gets kind of dense in the middle •Take a position: renew the stupid lease already so that we don't have to 1)bus students endlessly 2)spend lots more money. It's obvious, no? And let's take the high road and not shove it JD's face, at least not yet! •Credit to the author, Jim, but also to SOS: our public splash!!

Need help, Jim? Let me know....

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

If anyone wants to take a stab at writing an objective analysis of the document, please, do give it a try. My feeling is that people sit at these meetings for long periods of time and maybe would read all this info.

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

IGOTTAGO department:

Today's editorial in the Ulster County Townsman decries the busing of kindergartners from Pine Hill to West Hurley, and makes the point that not only would monitors be needed, but there would need to be toilets on the buses. I imagine Grehl would have factored in monitors, but did he?

And what about toilets on the buses? Marian's fevered brain? Or genuine public health concern? What are legal requirements for how far (mileage, or elapsed time?) one can bus kindergartners?

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

hi. toilets are an unlikely addition to the budget. Boy, the papers were pretty hard on JD if you ask me.The front man goes down. Friday noght will be telling. Both newspapers toutd Millman's "we'll listen to the public in it's infinite wisdom "rhetoric.The infinitely wise public will no doubt provide it's usual surprises.I'm curious to know who of us plans to speak at pbh ? So Franko what's with the document? You got the next version?BIGLOVEmm

-- Anonymous, February 22, 2001

Anyone willing to speak tonight? I spoke 2 meetings ago about impact on phoenicia school if modulars are removed. I can again...but different faces are needed. I certainly plan to write a letter to newspapers. I will be at BOE meeting around 6:30 to feel out what needs to be said. Lot's of onteora employees coming tonight. Redistricting without a solid plan is unnerving to employees...as it should be! Specifically at Phoenicia, the kindergarden inclusion program is a district success. It meets state mandates and the whole building is in sink with inclusion team. Many awards and onteora basking in limelight of inclusion success. A different building site would mean starting all over again and I project, not with the same success. Sorry Woodstockers, the staff at woodstock elementary is not inclusion friendly and W.Hurley is hesitant. Inclusion brings up fear. that's OK, natural responce to anything new and seemingly threatening. Raising awareness and acceptance takes time. Dumping kids at other schools does not promote inclusion. It creates a resistant unhappy situation that does not serve the little ones. Inclusion needs to be developed in each building reflecting their individual communities. See you all tonight...Melissa

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

I,m sympathetic to just the facts.I'm impressed with all the work you've done and offer thanks, really. In general I am convinced that people simply glaze over at too much information if there is no context to interpret it in.So, yes, pbh will provide us with an opportunity to share this information, but then it is attached to the politics of the people who are speaking and the people who are listening.You know Eric is at Model Congress ,but I know he will be interested to hear reponse to student ? for interviews.Bringing the # down to 3 was something he mentioned.See you all tonight.

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

Jim: sunday pm, 3/4 is ok for me. Most weeknights are also ok. I'm planning to stop sleeping so I can attend all these meetings and still get my work done....

Tonight: I'm planning to speak, and the point I'd like to make is this: One man on the BOE has created this crisis basically out of nothing! I believe there is a hidden agenda: to run the Onteora system for as little money as possible, no matter what. (Except that he miscalculated when it came to transportaion costs...or did he?) This is the taxpayer vs. student issue, and, while they think they're in the majority, they will walk all over any minority they can to get their way.

Surprise, you fools! When you add up all the minorities you're hurting, they're the majority!

ps Did anyone hear about bus companies contributing to CARE?

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

Is that "Did the bus companies donate to CARE?" or "Did you hear the news-- the bus companies donated to CARE?" Your meaning was not entirely clear, Curry.

If they did, is documentation available, or is it hearsay?

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

Volume 1 Issue 2 of the CARE Newsletter "Smoke Signals" lists a donation of $50 from RJW Bus transit.

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

Response to students "questions for candidates". Counting down the bullets on Erik's list, I liked questions: 1-how to ensure communications, 4 - students should know if candate supports student rep on board, 5) How to overcome student apathy, 9 - on quality of teachers - I wonder if board members have any say in hiring/firing practices in first place?, and 10 - what is your vision for Onteora? My own thoughts on #5 - How about creating a "School Within A School", which would provide alternative course substitutes and activities for disaffected students? We created one in my old High School and it was pretty cool. We came up with some alternative elective courses such as "Poetry of Rock", found teachers to teach them and students to take them. We also created our own room/lounge for meetings, support groups etc. Another idea i'm interested in is the "NO Bullying" policy that's being used in a Maine elementary school to much acclaim and success. Any takers on that for our elementary schools? There is a strong connection between bullying and oppression -racial, gender, class, etc, of any type. Another pet idea of mine is social skills training from elementary schools on up. The idea behind this is to help children learn from early on how to get along well with others, and establish meaningful connections with others. Not only valuable in itself, also addresses the issue of violence ie, Columbine - violent kids often feel on the social fringe and obviously lack empathy. I guess this could be put as a question to candidates alnog the lines of how to prevent school violence? Meaning not just on whether we have metal detectors or not, but what can schools do as educators to teach children the skills they need to function successfully both socially, emotionally, as well as academically. (And I'm NOT talking DARE here!) I guess the question I might put to candidates would be something along the lines of: Given the current stressors on American families, and the resulting lack of time and energy that many parents have for their children, some say that schools need to contribute to students social/emotional development in addition to academics. What do you think the schools' responsibilities should include in the future and how would you envision implementing these ideas? --Irene

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

I trust Joe Vanacore didn't exit the board meeting early? I believe I saw him come into at the Onteora/Rondout girls' basketball league game at about the third quarter around 9-ish.

-- Anonymous, February 23, 2001

The meeting last night was very interesting, as usual. I attended with Phoenica colleagues. Tina is a parent from Phoenicia who spoke last night very passionately and eloquently concerning the Kindergarden busing threat.

I would like to make Joe Doan accountable for his quotes in the Catskill Mtn. News and the Ulster Townsman. He made a statement that the papers misquoted him and Perry called these remarks rumors. It seems to me that two separate papers and two separate reporters would make it less likely that Doan was misunderstood. Isn't it curious that these two newspapers were elevated to official status after the previous two papers (woodstock times and kingston freeman)were dismissed for misquoting and misunderstanding. And as usual, Perry was inadequate. He actually mis-spoke and said the board needs to keep the public "misinformed". Did anyone else hear that?

Rose Ostrander did not have an extreme position last night. What if Kathy Hochman has an influence that makes the present issues (aside from the mascot issue) more middle road? Can the present issues and the mascot issue be separated? The mascot issue has good representation. Are there reasonable people in C.A.R.E. who agree on educational issues with S.O.S.? Before we turn away from Hochman and Goodman we need to be sure of their positions and agenda.

The gentleman who spoke, Skip Weidner (sp?), for the taxpayers pointing to 1974 is our real challenge. I am told he was a board member back in those days and is respected. Unfortunately, he's stuck in a mindset and time warp that is not representative of the present or future. He represents a huge voting block. How can we educate and get these folks to understand it's 2001 and "the times they are a-changin'" I was pleased with Kathy Hochman's comments of the changed laws and their impact on public schools concerning people with disabilites, but that was only one reason of many why Mr. Weidner's point of view is terribly obsolete. What about technology, expanded curriculums, regent's demands, etc?


-- Anonymous, February 24, 2001

Last night's BOE meeting:

•How refreshing to see JD behind the 8 ball, ho ho ha ha & he he

•Very clear that the Onteora community is against bussing kindergartenters and special eds, and also bringing sixth graders up to the middle school now

•I was fascinated, of course, by the architect/contruction manager presentation. Also, skeptical, but not from mistrust, but from lack of understanding on my part: it's a big job, with lots of depth. The financial presentation was really clear: I learned a lot. However, I found myself strangely in tune with Rose O. and Tom D., and others who I normally don't agree with, and it was, well, very interesting.

•I think that this is a bad year to pass a bond issue, as well thought out as it may be, as badly as we may need it. The reason is that the tax spike which is coming up in order to pass a decent budget and begin our recovery from this years debacle will be a hard enough sell, and I don't know how much more than this the voters will be able to handle. However, Meg reminded me after the meeting that the tax increase embodied in any bond issue won't begin for 1 or 2 years, so if enough voters understand this, maybe a bond issue can be passed.

•What's the squeeze on FP, Jim? What's that rig he was in?

•Susan, Hal did speak up later, he was ok, just didn't have much to say last night.

•Carol: did you see Jim's response to the bus company's contrubution to CARE? It's at the top of the messages....(???)

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2001

Hi Susan: Greg Walters asked Hal to put together the worst scenario that could happen to students and buildings if bond issue is not passed. He wants the public to know what will happen... so public will be clear about impact. He agreed and said it would take a few days.

Was there a meeting today? I thought there was one next week Saturday? Let me know please.


-- Anonymous, February 24, 2001

Yeah, Melissa, that was really interesting, one of the smartest questions that got asked last night. I thought Hal had a funny smile when he said he'd do it....

-- Anonymous, February 24, 2001

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