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Congers Elementary, A Town in Trouble.

Here's an Opinion piece from a Patch reader. You can post your opinions in the comments or on our Boards, http://newcity.patch.com/boards/opinion?content_subdomain=newcity

Congers Elementary School. Patch file photo
Congers Elementary School. Patch file photo
I am really worried that our school is going to be closed. The Board seems to be selling it as not worth it to fix and continue running. They got an outrageous bid on the cost to fix it, and are getting the taxpayers in school district to be worried about their extra costs, and also an implied threat that if Congers doesnt close one of their schools might end up closing instead due to class size. Their propaganda looks like we are just being selfish and want out kids to go to this school because it is conveneint. I think that would even be an acceptable reason, but that isnt it. Our school is on the main street of our town. It is a beautiful historical building and many of our kids walk there, and play there. Many of our town businesses live off of the business the school brought to our area. The closing of the school is the decline of our town. 

we pay a lot of taxes... taxes that make other counties go WTF! we are not affluent here, most of us are hardworking families who live here so our kids can go to a good local school. if we wanted out kids to ride a bus for 20 minutes we could live upstate and pay minimal taxes compared to what we pay here. 

And now I am going to get personal. I have 3 little ones and am a single parent and a home owner. I have invested a lot personally to stay here so that my kids could attend this school. The staff is excellent and supportive and we feel good going their each day and being greeted personally by Mrs. Ryan. One of my children is in a special education program. where will he go? will he be bussed totally some other place while my other elementary aged child goes to a different place? The answers to this question are very vague. "nothing will change." How can that be? His school is going to be closed! Will they be on different schedules? What if I don't have access to a car and someone needs to be picked up? Even now if there is a snowstorm I am worried because the kids are riding 20 minutes instead of just 4-5 minutes. especially since the Board seems to not like closing on snow days instead preferring to have early dismissial or delays. should little kids be riding on busses 20 minutes though snowstorms? this does not seem in the best interest of the kids, but I digress. 

Where is all the money? No one can answer this question it seems. Many schools are in disrepair, and there should be a maintainance schedule. What kind or preventative maintainance is being done? Congers supporters are being held up as selfish people who only want their schoiol fixed while other schools also need things. We never wanted that. we wanted a bond to address all the schools, but also transparency on how the money is getting spent. 

also, we want an independant engineer to look at the damage and give us a real estimate. i am having severe trust issues with the Board and theinformation we are being fed by them. 

we are being railroaded here in Congers, and other schools and residents in our district need to take a hard look at what is happening. This could be you next year. What do you think will happen if the board decides YOUR school isnt worth fixing? How about if your kids get sprinkled into empty seats in other schools because there is room? How about if you had a big building wasting away on your main street, and the local businesses were dying because of it? Is this really about one town being "whiney"? They are creating a blueprint of how they will handle this issue going forward. If this works, they will employ the same methods again and again. Believe it.

Susan O'Dell January 31, 2014 at 08:28 AM
I have all of those same thoughts and fears.
Scott Northridge January 31, 2014 at 08:43 AM
Every one has a sob story to tell about something. It doesn't stop us from paying taxes and going with the flow. Your child will still be in a Clarkstown school. A 20 minute ride will not hurt anyone. Go with the flow. Times are a changing. ,
Tyler Durden January 31, 2014 at 09:08 AM
Where is the money going? North and South high schools got their football fields upgraded. It seems that ball-throwing contests are more important than maintaining and repairing existing infrastructure. Another thing that should concern ALL Clarkstown residents is only being whispered about. If this school goes up for sale there is a good chance that a certain group of block voters will by it. Once they get a foothold in a community everybody suffers and home prices evaporate.
Allison January 31, 2014 at 09:13 AM
I am not a Congers Elem parent, I am a past Little Tor parent. I lived around the corner from Little tor and my kids were on the bus for a minimum of 15 minutes at least. I dont think that that is a valid reason to keep a school open because you do not want your kid to be on a bus a bit longer. Believe me sitting on a bus is not a punishment for them. They socialize and love to be on it. As for the other reasons some a valid some are just because of fear of change. No one likes change and no one likes to be out of a comfort zone. The fact of the matter is the school does not warrant to stay open due to the low enrollment and the cost to keep it open in repairs as well as staff.
Lady Madonna January 31, 2014 at 09:15 AM
Tyler, the whispers are stupid, unfounded fears. Why would the Hasids want to buy that property when none of them live remotely close to the area?
WGMom January 31, 2014 at 09:45 AM
I am a Woodglen parent. I actually live in a location where we are WAY closer to a different elementary school, but my kids are zoned to go to Woodglen. Their bus comes 40 minutes before school starts. I'd love my kids to not have to sit on a bus for that long, and oftentimes I drive them to school so they don't have to, but it's just the reality of the situation. I wish there was an easy solution to this.
Mike Hirsch January 31, 2014 at 10:24 AM
Change is part of life. Those that embrace it fare much better than those that do not. I know that many Congers residents are emotionally attached to the school and the way that that section of town looks. I see either a vibrant senior housing complex or a vibrant commercial office building for that spot in the future and think that either will make that an exciting area, not to mention the huge increase to our tax base, which is sorely needed and will benefit all concerned. Once the dust settles and either of those two ideas become reality, I think most Congers residents will be happy that that change brings to their hamlet.
Dan January 31, 2014 at 10:45 AM
Lady Madonna, Hasidics bought the building on Kings Highway in Valley Cottage next to the railroad tracks. They have a presence. Look what they did to East Ramapo. All the board members gave the money to their schools. They don't pay taxes. They are pedophiles. Look at the scandal in New Square. Not all are bad. Where is our tax money going.
Tyler Durden January 31, 2014 at 10:47 AM
Mike H. Can I borrow your crystal ball? I want to know who wins the Super Bowl. Jeeesh.
Mike Hirsch January 31, 2014 at 10:53 AM
Peyton and the Broncos.
Robert Ward Kurkela January 31, 2014 at 11:31 AM
Here we go again with the JEWISH scare tactics. It never ends. It would take a majority on the Town, Zoning, Planning, and School Boards who don't have the best interests of the public school kids in mind to complete a takeover of a school or district like we now see in East Ramapo. We also don't have someone like Chris St. Lawrence as Supervisor. Like him or hate him, Alex Gromack isn't cozying up to any religious groups. Also, Ed Day is now our County Executive and he's tough on people who have ulterior motives for our schools. If anyone tries to compare Congers to Hillcrest or Colton, you simply can't. I am actively helping in East Ramapo so I can tell you this for a fact. The lies and misinformation are astounding.
steve January 31, 2014 at 11:43 AM
One thing to keep in mind if the school is closed and property Is to be sold, there is a good chance that the religious groups will make a play for the property. If this happens there goes the neighborhood. This might seem to many as cruel view, but if you look around Rockland you will see this is true.
Robert Ward Kurkela January 31, 2014 at 11:45 AM
Steve, did you even read what I just posted?
Mike Hirsch January 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM
Tyler, as we both know, either team could win. I like the Seahawks a lot, but have to give the edge to experience. Don't ask me about the spread.
Overtaxed January 31, 2014 at 11:52 AM
What I don't understand is that we have a school district and BOE members we voted for, but some people feel they are entitled to have their own engineers review the building. Why do you think that would be something the district would do? It baffles me. We have engineers that are trusted and approved to do business with the district, but because what they say is not what certain people want to hear, we have to discount that?
Speaking Out January 31, 2014 at 12:24 PM
This is a completely emotional issue with no rational behind any of the issues. What I know to be FACT is: no state aid, $26/year if my house is assessed at $140k, which by the way it is higher, enough room in other buildings to accommodate these 200 children, a bus ride which is closer than going to Middle school, btw if Congers residents don't realize this, your children go across the causeway for Middle School and High School, a savings of $1.25mm which in turn will save other programs in this District. I will be voting NO simply for what the facts are...declining enrollment and NO tax increase!! To ask for guarantees is just simply ridiculous....
Watchdog January 31, 2014 at 01:05 PM
FROM Ed Days FACEBOOK PAGE BY. A MR. BURNS: We should not just cover these problems over by issuing bonds that " only cost us $26 a year." $7 million is real money and the fact is if you divide any number by the number of Clarkstown households it appears relatively small. I have also seen this method with the police salaries to justify policemen making $200,000 a year. " it is only $432 per resident so what are you complaining about?" This is a terrible way to justify spending millions if dollars. Before we approve any bond, we should be looking at why and how we find ourselves in such a deep hole and correct those policies that got us there, not just cover it up with a bond that cost" just $26 a year". Who is in charge of maintenance and where are the reports? Where is his budget and why was it not mandated to be incorporated into the overall school budget? Seems to me that the way things are done, the tax money comes in and instead of looking at spending these dollars across all budget items, including annual maintenance, those that scream the loudest, just like this bond, get what they want. The entire process needs overhauling. It stinks and we are doing nothing about it.
Scott Northridge January 31, 2014 at 01:15 PM
All of this talk about Jewish groups taking over the Congers School. Why not buy or rent St. Augustine School in New City. It is vacant and only down the block from Chabad. Bottom line is there is no reason to keep Congers School open. I am all for maintaining the building for commercial use.
Ken McQuade February 01, 2014 at 02:37 PM
Question for the vote on the school ? I understand you can vote at Lakewood 7-9 am on the 4th. What Identification do you bring to vote? this will not be my normal polling place.
One love February 01, 2014 at 09:03 PM
I think we only need to bring our licenses and give them your address.
ADK February 03, 2014 at 01:20 PM
from the district web site: You are eligible to vote if you are: 18 years of age or older, a United States citizen, a resident of the Clarkstown school district for 30 days or more, and registered through the school district or Rockland County Board of Elections.
Tyler Durden February 03, 2014 at 08:26 PM
Mike Hirsch If your prediction for the future of Congers is anything like your Super Bowl prediction...we are in deep doo doo.
Mike Hirsch February 04, 2014 at 01:49 AM
I was waiting for that one. Peyton looked like a deer caught in the headlights from the first snap.
Justice4all February 05, 2014 at 08:55 AM
whew!

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