May 14, 2008: Voting for OCS School Board matters

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To The Editor:

We are at a critical juncture in the future of the Onteora Central School District, and unless voters in all the communities respond on Election Day, May 20, our children, taxpayers and communities will suffer a terrible and irreversible body blow.

The board of education incumbents, if re-elected, will saddle the district with a $70-plus million bond, and embark on the largest, most expensive construction project in the history of the district and build a grades 5-12 middle school/high school building that is not educationally sound nor publicly supported.  
Additionally, by the time construction begins, the original cost estimates will be three years old and will need to be updated.

Does the Ulster County Jail ring a bell?

The incumbents are also determined to close an elementary school, although our neighborhood elementary schools are thriving.  They are not broken. In short they want to borrow $70-plus million to close a school, to build a school and to overcrowd the classrooms.

The incumbents deny that taking our youngest children and busing them further and longer to sit in overcrowded classrooms will be harmful. They deny that there is anything troubling about putting 5th graders on the same buses and in the same building as 12th graders.

They deny that the closure of a school will have any economic impact on a town, or on property values.  Talk to a local business owner or realtor and you’ll get a very different picture.

They cite predictions of a downward spiral in enrollment, while actual predicted enrollment shows a plateau, and demographic reports do not include families moving to the area.

The incumbents are ramming forward one costly solution.  There are other solutions that they have refused to consider.  These are solutions that can cost less, include all our communities, create vibrant, educationally sound schools for our children, keep our local businesses and property values from declining, all while being eligible for state aid.

These other solutions need to be fully explored and costed out before making any decisions and putting forth a bond.

Our block of four Onteora School Board challengers are already working on fiscally responsible, creative, educationally sound ideas that provide a positive, doable vision for our district. We ask for your support and your help in getting out the vote on Tuesday, May 20 from 2-9 p.m. at your town elementary school, so that we can turn this astronomical catastrophe around and create a district that we can be proud of and that others will want to be part of. Vote #2-5 on your ballot.

Education matters. Money matters. Community matters. 

Donna Flayhan, Ralph Legnini, Laurie Osmond and Ann McGillicuddy,
Candidates for OCS Board