A Viable Alternative

We Must Offer a Clear Counter-Strategy

It occured to me during a discussion with Jerry Zimmerman, that it is not going to be enough for us to simply make a unified show of protest over the proposed closure of PIES. At the end of the day, no matter how much we protest, the BOE is going to have to do something to address the budgetary issues that are at the root of this whole problem.  What we need to do as a unified front, is publicize an ALTERNATIVE strategy to the broader Warwick Valley community.  We need to clearly demonstrate to our neighbors that there is an alternative to closing PIES and why the alternative makes more sense.  Jerry offered a strategy I think fits the bill click “continue reading” to see the details of this alternative plan.

Currently, the Town of Warwick has three school systems, three superintendents, three administrative offices and other very costly redundancies. The solution is one system with one superintendent and one support staff. Teachers can move between schools to teach a subject that doesn’t call for a full time teacher at a particular school.

We all know that the plan to “tuition in” or otherwise absorb Greenwood Lake students into WVHS has been denied several times by voters (this blogger included).  However, when the last such vote took place, the economy hadn’t grown as dismal as it is today.  At the time, the merger between Greenwood Lake and Warwick didn’t seem like the best option.  But compared against the current plan to start CLOSING SCHOOLS, merging not only Greenwood Lake but Florida too, certainly begins to look like the far better of two evils.   Whatever hardships may be involved in bringing these districts into our own can surely be endured until the economy improves and more resources can be directed toward alleviating the burdens.  The alternative – closing PIES or any other school – is irreversable and does long term damage to our children, our business communities, and our property values (in Pine Island).

But how can we get the rest of the Warwick community – parents of students in other elementary schools and people with no kids in school at all – to line up behind this plan?  After all, something is going to have to happen and if it is not a plan we approve, it will be the plan we all agree is the wrong way forward.  So we have to show our fellow Warwickians why this plan makes better sense than the plan to close schools.  What we need to do through our vocal and visible protest, is to clearly articulate how the plan to close PIES does NOTHING to SOLVE the problem.   We have to convince folks that their plan is simply based on moving the PAIN over to another group of residents in the village. We have to make it crystal clear to all in town that the strategy is doomed to failure because it depends on:

1. Having elected officials move to raise school taxes in an election year to pay to keep PI School open; or
2. Equalizing the PAIN which would ask for MORE parents at the other elementary schools to accept cuts in their schools involving wholesale transfers of their kids; or
3. The School Board would have to admit it conspired to hide assets from the PI community.

I think, when laid out clearly, the facts above would make a compelling case for stopping the closure of PIES or any other school in the district and instead merging the districts and eliminating the costly redundancies in administration instead.  We have an unlikely ally in the Board, as they had been in full support of the merging of GWL and WVHS last time it was offered to a vote.  But make no mistake, as Jerry so astutely points out, “the Administration is not going to be in favor of doing away with itself in favor of a unified Town Board.”  Ultimately though, it is NOT THEIR DECISION TO MAKE.  It is ours. 

In closing, let me again state that we must have a viable and competitive strategy for addressing this issue. One that we can easily convince our fellow Warwickians is superior to the closure of any schools in the district.  Then we must coalesce behind our counterplan and force the board to act in our favor.  What do you think of this plan?  Or do you have another idea for a counterplan that we can put up against the plan to close our school?

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6 Comments

Filed under Local (Warwick Valley)

6 responses to “A Viable Alternative

  1. A Concerened Parent

    A few points here I feel are important – yes, an alternative needs to be offered, a viable alternative. Meet with others involved in this because several alternatives have already been floated. The ‘PTA’ meeting this week should bring out all of the other plans for keeping PI open. Regarding the tuitioning of the Greenwood Lake students, there was only ONE vote, ever. As a matter of fact, it does not even need to be voted on in Warwick, only in Greenwood Lake. The Board of Ed was NOT in favor of that merger at all; they barely went along with it, and only because Dr.Greenhall had proposed and moved forward with it. Very few people involved with the district were remotely supportive of this move. And of course, over 85% of the voters rejected it. In what way would merging Greenwood Lake be beneficial to THEM? Think about it. If it does, in fact, come up for a vote in GWL, why would they be in favor of it. Merging Florida and Greenwood Lake could have a negative impact on them, perhaps even closing one of their schools (Elem. or HS). I think there should be other strategies/alternatives besides mergers. There are several of them out there. But I sincerely believe closing Pine Island Elem.School is wrong – on so many levels. And it is imperative to show a united front on options to this closure, not just anger over it, as you mentioned. It is, unfortunately, all about money.

  2. If I understand it correctly, Greenwood Lake still has 2 or 3 years left in their contract with Tuxedo. Even if Warwick voters were supportive of a merger, it would be years before it could even become a reality.

  3. Frank

    One thing that I haven’t heard anyone mention is that closing Pine Island will NOT produce the 6 million + in expense reductions that is needed to close the budget gap. Deep cuts will be required elsewhere in the district. Since we are considered to be an “affluent” community by the state, I would conclude that state aid will continue to trend downwards until the economy improves dramatically. Some of the items that I can think of which are discretion are: Kindergarten, busing for children within 2 miles of school, all extracurricular activities, sports and clubs, music and art programs in all schools, advanced placement and honors courses, and the list goes on. We as voters and taxpayers should see a list of every item, including sacred cows, with the cost and benefit of each. We can then comment on our opinion of their relative value so that the board knows what the community wants them to do. Remember this is not a one year problem, it will continue to haunt us for the foreseeable future unless sustainable changes can be made to the school budget and funding.

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