Story by Lisa Rice
The monthly meeting of the Warwick Valley Central School District began by honoring a very special group.
It was a phone call that no school Superintendent wants to receive Dr. David Leach said of the call he received the evening of Fri., Sept. 6 informing him that the school bus carrying the Warwick Valley Girl’s Varsity tennis team had been in an accident. Leach soon learned that the driver of the bus, Denise Schmidt, had suffered a medical emergency and the bus went off I-84 and crashed into a tree. Varsity Tennis Coach Bill Zwart and members of the team did their best to administer CPR and first aid at the scene until emergency crews could arrive. Schmidt died the following Sunday.
“We lost a beloved employee and community member,” he said. He commented on how the girls did so much to reassure the family and showed “extraordinary leadership, ethic of care and maturity.” He commented that Zwart and the girls helped to extend Schmidt’s life until her family had a chance to be with her.
The names of all the team members were announced and the School Board shook hands with and thanked those present, along with their coach.
Chamber Orchestra Performs
The Warwick Valley High School Chamber Orchestra provided a “Performing Arts Moment” for the school board under the direction of E’lissa Jones-Leonard performed “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas and “Nocturne”.
Board Passes Special Meeting Resolution
After nearly an hour of public comment the board approved a resolution to hold a special meeting and vote on Wed., Dec. 18 to authorize capital improvements to various school district facilities at a maximum expense of $14.9 million, with $5,393,800 coming from the capital reserve fund and the remaining $9.5 million to be funded through a tax levy. Improvements would include new windows at Park Avenue Elementary, replacing portions of the roof at the High School, upgrades and improvements to the High School auditorium. But it was another potential improvement that brought out public comment: upgrading the sports fields to include turf, bathrooms, lighting and more. The overwhelming majority of the speakers were in favor of the improvements.
Todd Orlando, who opened the comments, gave three reasons in favor of the upgrade: all the sports teams would be able to utilize them, other districts have better fields putting Warwick athletes at a disadvantage, and it would help Warwick to “keep up with the Joneses.”
Other parents echoed their support, saying that it’s important for the district to invest in infrastructure, that synthetic fields would extend the playing seasons in the fall and spring, and that adding bathrooms closer to the playing fields is necessary. Another commented that it is embarrassing to the athletes to be playing in a “cow field”. Athletic Director Gregory Sirico read from a prepared statement in support of sports field upgrades.
There were others who argued against the synthetic playing field. Greg DeBuck prefers grass over plastic or rubber and suggested that perhaps doing more to maintain the natural grass field than just mowing would be a better option.
“We are Warwick,” he said. “We don’t have to follow what others have done.”
Another speaker stated that he also prefers the fields stay natural and isn’t convinced that plastic is the way to go.
A newsletter outlining the proposed improvements in their entirety will be sent to voters in early December with information on polling locations.
Oh the Places They’ll Go – Field Trips
After the resolution for the special meeting was approved, the crowd dispersed and the school board resumed the regular meeting with more new business, which included the approval of several field trips.
Park Avenue Elementary 2nd graders and Sanfordville PIE 1/2 students will visit Turtle Back Zoo in October.
In November, High School art students will visit Vassar College and the Henry A. Wallace Center in Hyde Park and Wire Choir members from the Middle and High School will go to the FDR Library and Museum in Hyde Park.
Mandarin Chinese classes from the Middle and High School will visit the Museum of Chinese in America in New York City in January.
In May, Middle Schoolers will be on the move with trips approved to go to the Bronx Zoo and the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, CT. In June trips are planned to the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston and New York City.
The school board also approved a new Health Text Book, Comprehensive Health and authorized the refund of taxes due to assessment reductions.
The next meeting of the Warwick Valley Central School District will be held on Mon., Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center.