BY LAUREN KATE ROSENBLUM
At the North Rockland High School Committee of the Whole meeting (COTW) on Tuesday, discussion of the board’s NRCSD Transformation Plan highlighted the evening.
Unfortunately attendees of the meeting found the board’s PowerPoint presentation to be confusing, and the Northern Zone school transition plan, which would help even out populations in various middle schools, concerned some parents. The new lines that would be drawn, mostly in the northern part of the district, were very difficult to decipher on the PowerPoint, for the board as well as the attendees of the meeting.
The main point of the diagram was to show that some students from Willow Grove, which has the highest population out of the three middle schools, would be shifted to Farley, which has the lowest. The students who would be experiencing the shift would be those from the northern part of the district. Willow Grove and Farley also would no longer be middle school but upper elementary schools serving grades 4-6. Fieldstone will be the only middle school, serving grades 7&8.
Parents expressed concern on the plan, because it was unclear on where some kids would be going to school next year, but the board would not accept comments or questions on it at the COTW since it was still in draft form. While some people were outraged the board would not take questions, Sandra Bullock, a regular at the COTW meetings said, “I’m fine with it because they are not going to vote on it until after it’s offered for public comment.”
The board later assured the audience that they can come and state their opinion on it at the November 1 meeting at 6:30 p.m., and the board will not vote on the plan that evening. Also to be included in the reorganization discussion in two weeks, the Railroad Avenue School will be shut down and those students will go to where North Garnerville Elementary and the district’s administration offices are located.
North Rockland High School will go back to its old system of having grades 9-12. Haverstraw, Farley and Willow Grove will now become upper elementary schools, serving grades 4-6. Their sister schools, West Haverstraw, Stony Point and Thiells will become lower elementary schools, serving grades K-3.
The district will also be implementing nationwide best practices and have consulted proven research in how they construct the new school curriculums. For instance, in K-3 instruction, the district notes a study by Eric Jenson from 2005 that shows that movement is linked to increased learning. This means that when children are engaged, they will learn more. Their application of this within the schools will be “differentiated literacy and numeracy learning experiences and centers incorporate movement, taking into account students’ interests, readiness levels, learning styles, language proficiencies and diverse learning needs.”
For a revised presentation of this plan, or to comment on it, the public is urged to attend the November 1 “Monthly Update on ‘NRCSD Transforming Our Future.’” It will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the NRHS auditorium. A regularly scheduled board meeting will follow that and will also include an opportunity to comment.
During public comments issue of the Pre-K transportation fund came up again. Maria Foils asked for an answer to a question she had raised at the last board meeting. She, along with many in the audience noticed that there was a Pre-K transportation fund with $48,000 being transferred out of it. Since the school has no Pre-K transportation, this raised many eyebrows. The Assistant Superintendent of Business Services James Johnston had no answers for her at that time.
She again asked on Tuesday, “How much is in that Pre-K account?”
She continued, “My child has been out of Pre-K for nine years and I know there has never been Pre-K transportation bus for Pre-K, so why do we have a Pre-K transportation fund?”
Johnston responded that the account on the computer is a “Pre-K/Special Education Out of District” fund rather than just Pre-K. While he agreed that there was no Pre-K transportation, he said it was just a name. The title of the account was truncated when it was listed on the agenda. However, he did not have the amount that was in the account now readily available.