Story by Lisa Rice
The regular meeting of the Warwick Valley Central School Board was moved from their standard Monday evening to Thurs., Apr. 25 at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center following the district spring recess.
BOCES Budget Approved
The first order of business was to approve the Orange – Ulster BOCES 2019 – 2020 Administrative Budget in the amount of $7,403,793 and authorize the District Clerk to certify and transmit the approval to Orange – Ulster BOCES District Clerk.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach stated that it was great to have OU BOCES come to their last work session and explain their budget. Board President Sharon Davis added that OU BOCES supports 17 school districts and came to Warwick.
Next, the board approved a motion to vote for three members to serve on the BOCES Board of Cooperative Educational Services, William Boss from Greenwood Lake Union Free School District, Joseph Byrne from Valley Central School District and Edwin Estrada from Middletown Enlarged City School District.
Leach Highlights Budget & Newsletter
The Superintendent offered a slide presentation with a preview of the budget newsletter that will be sent out to residents. The voters are being asked to consider the 2019-2020 budget of $95,089,284 (Proposition 1). Proposition 2 includes the addition of three 65-passenger propane powered buses; one 21-passenger bus with wheelchair accessibility; and one 29-passenger bus with air conditioning and storage for athletics and music department transportation.
Leach pointed out that, once again, the budget is below the state imposed tax cap and is comprised of three-parts: 66.19% raised from school taxes, 27.72% from state aid, and 3.78% from local non-tax services, such as renting out available space and tuition from non-resident students. The entire budget is outlined in the upcoming newsletter.
Three board members, Eileen Gagliano, Keith Parsons and Denise Ginley are all running for reelection without opposition.
The Superintendent stated that many districts send out regular newsletters, but, due to the expense of mailings, Warwick only sends the one before the budget, which is mandated.
It was decided to use the opportunity to also inform residents of the accomplishments of the district and highlight programs. One of the items it will include is the addition of the criminal justice, video production and cosmetology courses, which decreases the number of students sent to the Career & Technical Education (CTEC) program by about 100 and saving the district not only the cost of tuition to BOCES but also reduces the cost of transportation.
An insert for the newsletter will highlight district alumni Stephanie Thiessen, Molly Little, Dominick Savino, Demi Herasme and Wen Long Yang. Each of the former students discusses what they are accomplishing now and how programs at Warwick Valley High School put them on their current path.
The flip side of the insert offers “Points of Pride”, such as Warwick having one of the highest four-year graduation rates, adding 40 new courses since 2014, full-time police officers in every building and more. The newsletter is still getting a few tweaks on the language but will be sent out shortly.
School Board Discusses NSBA Conference
Several board members recently attended the National School Board Association (NSBA) Annual Conference held in Philadelphia. Each participating member discussed things that stood out to them in the breakout sessions, but overwhelmingly agreed that many of the suggested programs and policies have already been or are in the process of being implemented in Warwick.
Eileen Gagliano discussed a presentation on social media that provided information she found very disturbing run by a representative from the Department of Justice. He demonstrated how easy it is to locate someone’s social media posts, likes, comments, etc, even after they were deleted. They were also shown how cell phones act as tracking devices allowing people to know your location and he suggested that people use Google phone numbers.
Gagliano stated that perhaps students needed to be educated on the impact of social media and the internet even earlier than they are currently, suggesting perhaps even before they are using it. Keith Parsons, who also attended that session, commented that kids’ lives are all online and that implications of some comments could follow them to college admissions and job interviews.
Parsons also discussed another session he attended that dealt with how schools are being constructed with safety in mind, for example, buildings raised so cars cannot drive into them and impenetrable walls.
Lynn Lillian described the focus on a proactive approach to the nature of mental disorders and viewing school districts as therapeutic institutions.
Bob Howe added his experience in a socio-emotional learning session that focused on resiliency, bullying and creating a happy atmosphere focusing on staff.
“The common theme was stress and the importance of mentors,” Howe stated. He stressed the idea of locating “natural helpers”, students keeping peers safe.
Leach attended a session on Artificial Intelligence and how it will dramatically alter society. He discussed biases that exist already – most programmers are men and the programming code used is written to think the way that men do. He said that Artificial Intelligence is called the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Board Reports & Events
The Warwick Coalition will hold a community meeting at the Albert Wisner Public Library on Thurs., May 16 at 6 p.m. to discuss underage drinking and marijuana use.
Student liaison to the School Board, Madeleine Wadeson, updated the members on the happenings at the high school, including that the Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) Club is working on an anti-vaping campaign with a video; the Drama Club sold out two out of their three performances of last month’s production of Mamma Mia!; seniors Brian Reiber, Thomas Dunnigan and Ava Ghobadian represented the district at the Greater Capital Region Science and Engineering Fair; and Cosmetology students attended the International Beauty Show at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City.
Reminding everyone that Wed., May 1 is Commitment Day for seniors, Wadeson announced that she would be attending SUNY Albany in the fall. She will enter college with 44 credits earned in Advanced Placement courses and stated that she will be able to complete both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in four years. “I thank Warwick for all of that,” Wadeson commented.
Elizabeth Hurd Scholarship Established
The School Board approved a resolution to establish the Elizabeth Hurd Excellence in Communications Scholarship Award and accepted $1000 from Douglas Hurd and $1000 from George Ketchum to fund the award.
They also accepted a $1000 donation from the Army National Guard to fund the Scholar-Athlete breakfast and a set of men’s left-handed golf clubs from Ralph Peluso for the High School Physical Education department at a value of $350.00.
Three field trips were approved: the WVHS concert band trip to New York City on Wed., May 1 to see The Lion King; WVHS Wind Ensemble will attend the Festival of Music on Fri., May 17 in Agawam, Massachusetts; and WVHS Video Production students will take a tour of NBC Studios in New York City on Mon., May 20.
The Board accepted the Albert Wisner Public Library vote results and, having no old business or comments from residents, went into executive session. They announced that there would be no further business conducted and the meeting would adjourn immediately following executive session.
The next meeting of the Warwick Valley Central School Board will be held on Mon., May 13 at the DCW Education Center located at 225 West St., Warwick. A public hearing on the proposed 2019-2020 budget will be held.