BY LAUREN KATE ROSENBLUM
Tuesday night’s North Rockland School Board meeting started off with the usual transformation plan update at 6:30 p.m. before it moved onto the general meeting at 7:30 p.m. The transformation meeting was rather short due to some issues that were still being figured out, surprising many parents.
The board produced a chart of the past, present and anticipated class sizes in the district. On the chart there were notable upward trends in class sizes starting from the 2009-2010 school year. The largest jump was in grades 9-12, which in the 2009-2010 school year averaged at 21.4, could be as high at 28 if the budget is not approved. If the budget is approved, it will be an average of 27 kids per class. Superintendent Ileana Eckert did however note that these figures were “comparable to other districts in the county.”
The board also voted on attendance lines. For the past few months, the board and parents have been going back and forth about the merits and problems between both plans A and B. Tuesday night the board decided on the more popular plan, “B.”
While Plan A took current middle school lines and simply dropped them down into the elementary school level, Plan B uses the same transportation lines currently in place, as the bus company charges per-run versus per-mileage. Plan B also has North Garnerville Elementary School Students (which will be closing), who live north of Route 202, attending West Haverstraw Elementary, while children living south of Route 202, will attend Thiells Elementary. Students attending Gerald Neary Elementary School, which is also closing, will be attending one of three K-3 schools, Thiells Elementary, West Haverstraw Elementary, and Stony Point Elementary.
Also provision included in Plan B is that children who are currently in grade five will stay in their current middle schools for sixth grade. This is to prevent that particular class from moving around too much, as if they were to be redistricted, some students would be seeing three schools in three years. The district is able to do this because the fifth grade class happens to be relatively evenly split in each school.
Plan B will also utilize the popular idea of sister schools. This means that students will go to elementary schools together. Haverstraw, Farley and Willow Grove would become elementary schools for grades four through six. Eckert has said that it is important to realize that fourth grade would not be coming into middle schools, but rather fifth and sixth grades would be reverting back to an elementary school model.
Also approved in the meeting was the breakfast lunch donation. According to the agenda, certain individuals who wish to remain anonymous delivered a check for $500 to the district to be used as “financial assistance” to students who can’t afford to pay for lunch or breakfast on any given day. This is something that has been done in years past, and the district gladly accepted it. They also said, “on behalf of the pupils and community,” they want to “express great appreciation and thanks to the individuals who have made this anonymous gift and donation.”
During the public input portion of the meeting, there was some concern expressed over whether the board fully considered how difficult this transition would be on the staff, who would be faced with familiarizing themselves with new curriculums and schedules under a short period of time.
In a previous meeting, the board had looked into not printing out school menus for the entire districts as a means to save paper in the New Year. Most children either don’t take them or rapidly throw them out upon receiving them. One teacher noted that the school had received menus for January. Eckert noted that the board had decided to wait until the next school year to begin implementing this rule.
North Rockland School Board Holds Special Meeting
BY LAUREN KATE ROSENBLUM
In a late December special meeting, the North Rockland Central School District Board of Education approved the Siemens Energy Performance Contract. Through a “request for proposal,” or RFP, process, Siemens Industry Inc. indentified themselves as a vendor of energy and energy performance supplies.
This plan was recommended by Superintendent of Schools, Ileana Eckert, and with the advice of the Assistant Superintendent of Business James Johnston. The contract entails replacing the roof at North Rockland High School, boiler replacements, and additional extensive work that needs to be performed at school district buildings and facilities.
The contract comes out to be for $7,416,944, but is subject to adjustment based on the work done and the supplies needed.
Also covered at the special meeting was the finalization of the lease agreement with Gerald F. Neary Elementary School and the Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES). North Rockland had announced some time ago that Gerald F. Neary Elementary School would be closing soon under the new district transformation plan. While the building will no longer house students, the school board has long said that they hope to lease the building to bring in revenue to the district. Now, BOCES will be leasing the building starting next year. The 22,500 square foot property will officially be inhabited by BOCES from July 1,2012 through June 20, 2017. The rent will be $160,875 a year.