June 8, 2023

Woodstock and Phoenicia’s elementary colleges are focused for closure by a majority of the Onteora College Board and superintendent Victoria McLaren. To supposedly minimize district prices, these trustees search to create “a central campus” for k-5 college students at Bennett Elementary in Boiceville. 

I’m one among many taxpayers adamantly against this.

Shedding Phoenicia and Woodstock elementaries would severely impression weak communities in each a human and a fiscal sense. Such a drastic transfer would imply longer bus rides – an hour plus – for extra kids, together with our group’s youngest, and it might current one more upheaval for the numerous struggling to catch up after pandemic faculty closures.

As Uncle Rock, I work with the youngest of this cohort. I proceed to witness firsthand how Covid isolation has delayed growth in a distressing variety of these youngsters. Longer bus rides, bigger class sizes, and compelled adjustment to a brand new atmosphere farther from house might solely exacerbate their unprecedented points. 

To get a way of what consolidation would sound and appear like, I encourage anybody to drive to the shuttered West Hurley College and roll down your window. That’s a really loud sort of quiet. It’s what mothballs sound like. It’s been like that since 2004. And by all means, ask any longtime West Hurley resident if their neighborhood is healthier or worse off with out the vibrancy of that faculty.

Ask any Woodstock or Phoenicia enterprise proprietor if their enterprise can be higher or worse off with out their native faculty. 

Though consultants have offered a number of choices to offset a dip in enrollment, the momentum is to get rid of Phoenicia and Woodstock elementaries and bus all kids within the 288-square-mile district to Bennett Elementary in Boiceville. To accommodate the inflow, that circa-1960 constructing would wish ten new school rooms, a gymnasium, and an expanded cafeteria. How a lot will these renovations/additions value? The board members and superintendent gained’t say, as a result of they don’t know. 

The same transfer to consolidate was tried in 2008. As a mum or dad of a then-ten-year-old, I used to be there. Not like the present pro-consolidation trustees, then-superintendent Leslie Ford did her due diligence, and a $70-million price ticket was affixed to proposed Bennett renovations to make room for the tidal wave of youngsters from the opposite colleges. 

The board majority who had pushed for that was voted out quickly thereafter, and their plans reversed — as a result of then, like now, most of their constituents opposed closing the village colleges. That majority of taxpayers couldn’t abide each the fiscal prices to taxpayers and companies, and much more so, the human value to the hamlets, and to Onteora’s youngest. 

This begs a number of questions:

Is the present consolidation-minded majority trying to that 2008 scenario and intentionally avoiding hiring specialists to evaluate the prices – each fiscal and human – of their plans?

Is that this lack of transparency and due diligence intentional?

Do they suppose their constituents aren’t engaged, aren’t paying consideration? Information flash: We’re.

Phoenicia resident Robert Burke Warren was an Onteora College Board trustee from 2017 to 2020.

The publish Standpoint: the fallacious path for Onteora first appeared on Hudson Valley One.