Tuxedo Union Free School District Meeting January 17, 2008

The Tuxedo Union Free School District met on January 17, 2008.

In the first Public participation session, Joanne Vernon, who had attended the previous evening’s joint School Board meeting in Greenwood Lake [see Editorial titled Anywhere But Tuxedo’s School District], made two very worthwhile suggestions about the upcoming tuition contract negotiations. Because Greenwood Lake wants the contract negotiation sessions to be conducted in a public forum, Vernon suggested that a professional third party facilitator be brought in to help both sides get through what are bound to be a number of contentious issues, not the least of which is how much Greenwood Lake students will be charged for tuition. President Hickey said he would definitely look into doing this. Vernon also suggested that the Boards aggressively seek out public opinion concerning the direction of the school system for the long term. One possible vehicle for doing this is a survey. Hickey agreed to take this under consideration as well. Hickey added that his Board is still committed to holding a public meeting in Tuxedo to discuss the Greenwood Lake situation in the near future. In response to a separate question, the Greenwood Lake representative confirmed that its ninth grade students would be attending Tuxedo for the 2008-09 school year.

Points of importance covered under the remaining agenda items were as follows. The budget process for the next school year will begin in February. Both Assembly Representative Rabbit and State Senator Monahan are working to achieve a more equitable distribution of State educational aid to the Greenwood Lake students attending Tuxedo’s high school. State aid needs to follow the sending districts students, as it is in most States, and not be based upon the receiving Districts student aid allocation. This lies at the heart of the high tax rate structure Greenwood Lake tax payers are dealing with. The donation of 40 acres from Tuxedo Reserve for the purpose of constructing a new school is moving forward, albeit slowly. The current suggested site has slope and drainage issues tied to it. Tuxedo reserve needs to resolve this in a satisfactory manner with the District prior to final approval being granted for its overall proposed housing project.

During the second Public Comment Period, it was pointed out that the current District website could be a much better information tool if it was maintained and updated on a timely basis. The Board appeared to agree with this suggestion, but what action will follow remains to be seen. It was also pointed out that Greenwood Lake remains committed to aggressively exploring any options away from staying with Tuxedo, and thus the Warwick vote has simply bought our District time. The need to diversify our District’s revenue stream to meaningfully decrease its dependence upon Greenwood Lake remains a major challenge that the Tuxedo Board must stay focused on going forward.

The meeting then went into Executive Session.

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