Next month, on February 4th, Clarkstown
voters will be given the opportunity to vote on a school bond for Congers
Elementary. This $6.5 million bond is to be used for major repairs to the school, which is currently closed. Students are currently attending classes in St. Augustine's School in New City
which has been leased for the rest of the current school year.
Let's back track just a little bit before I go on about the bond. Last summer, a wall is the school's gym was found to be structurally unsafe by engineers that were hired to evaluate the building. They subsequently found numerous other issues in the school that require repair. All the information is available to the public. This is a really super shortened and basic version of what has been going on.
My real concern here is that the general public does not have the information and history that lead up to this point and this bond vote. My fear is that because of this, people will only see $$$ and vote "no".
In my opinion, the bond proposal should have been put out for repairs to all of our school buildings in need, not just Congers
. People need to understand that while we are under significant financial constraints, we cannot be passive and watch our buildings continue to deteriorate either. Community Budget Committees have been formed and are actively meeting to come up with suggestions and alternatives to deal with the overall financial issues the district is facing. Congers
repairs are a piece of this much larger picture and shouldn't be separated out on their own.
This is not a new issue folks. This has been under discussion for many, many years. No one wants to see their taxes go up, but the fact of the matter is that these buildings have to be fixed. In the very least, they need new roofing asap....and the issue is money.
So, back to Congers
Elementary. I am afraid that people will vote no because of thoughts such as, "What about my child's school?" Why should we pay for theirs? Why? Because theirs is ours! Congers
is part of OUR school district. Let's get it repaired and reopened and continue with the business of how we are going to fund the rest of the repairs that are needed district wide. And how to maintain the quality of our district under the financial crisis that is looming.....sounds easy, but it's an extremely complex issue with many different facets involved.
The timeline of events has been chaotic, disorganized and convoluted to say the least. For me, this is very frustrating. We still don't know what the tax impact of the repairs would be. We don't know if the district is going to get state aid. We had never, as a district, hired a Demographer to evaluate enrollment. So, now one has been retained, but the timeliness of the results will not fall into line with everything else that is going on. So, are we repairing? Redistricting? Both? Difficult for some to vote on the Congers
bond when these questions may remain unanswered at the time of the vote!
Please come to this week's CCSD BOE meeting and listen, ask your questions, and make sure you are informed before you vote! These are some interesting times, and there are a lot of important issues on the table for our district. When you can't attend a meeting, you can go to the district website and get the information and watch a taped version. Please stay informed...this is critical time for our district...the bottom line is that we need a pro-active plan, we need to be fiscally responsible and we need to maintain the high quality of education that our district prides itself on.