Clarkstown School And State Education Officials To Meet On Congers Elementary Aid

Clarkstown School Superintendent Dr. Morton explains what happens after the bond vote.
Clarkstown School Superintendent Dr. Morton explains what happens after the bond vote.

Clarkstown residents learned Thursday night that school district administrators and board of education members are meeting on Monday with New York State Education Department (SED) officials regarding state funding for the repair of Congers Elementary School. The district’s application for SED aid for the school’s $6.5 million repair cost was turned down earlier this month. After Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski intervened, SED agreed to reconsider the request.

State aid would cover 55 percent of the work needed to reopen the school closed for safety reasons in August. If the proposed $6.5 million bond to fix the building is passed next month, state aid would mean a difference in what property owners would have to pay. 

With state aid homeowners would pay $10 per year over 30 years for the work. Without state funds, homeowners would pay $26 annually over 15 years. Commercial businesses or non-homestead properties would pay an increase of a quarter of one percent.

While the SED officials’ visit was good news for the supporters of the proposed bond, they characterized other information coming from the administration as misleading and divisive. A frequently asked question packet, which was prepared for the February 4th bond vote and distributed this week, drew criticism at the board meeting.

Several residents and board member Joe Malgieri took issue with wording.

“I just think this sends a negative message to the community,” said Malgieri. 

He said it tells parents if you vote yes for the bond your kids get moved, if you vote no they stay.

The document reads, “If Bond Vote is ‘Yes’ – It will be recommended to the BOE that all elementary school districts will be rezoned. If Bond Vote is ‘No’ – The only movement of children will be from Congers Elementary into New City Elementary and Lakewood.”

Congers parent Phil Leiter said residents could interpret that if they vote no on the bond, there will not be any redistricting beyond the three schools. Pete Bradley of Congers said the wording makes it sound like people will be punished if they vote yes because all elementary schools may be redistricted.

School Superintendent Dr. J. Thomas Morton explained that if the bond fails, the addition of the 234 Congers students to New City and Lakewood elementary would bring their classes to between 18 and 26 students. Those sizes are in line with the rest of the district. He said that parents would be notified by mid to late March which school their child is going to, however that information would not be complete for students with IEPs until May or June.  

The bond vote will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 4 at Lakewood, Link and West Nyack elementary schools and Clarkstown North High School.



Robert Ward Kurkela January 27, 2014 at 01:48 PM
Hilary, I am not going to defend the FAQ sheet. I actually stood up and blasted Dr. Morton & Mr. Fucci after the Congers kids were moved because I knew there were problems with the IEPs. Don't assume I am advocating for the Administration. I am not. But I refuse to allow Dr. Morton and his staff or Mike Aglialoro to be vilified as divisive. I maintain my stance that we should not be where we are now. This was avoidable. The bond arose out of nowhere with no plans. No information. No foresight. Dr. Morton had no plans or information available on November 14th because no one knew that a few Board members would blindside the rest of the Board and Administration with ANY bond that night. It was only supposed to be a discussion on "Congers Elementary School." I maintain that those responsible need to accept responsibility for a mistake and rescind it. The vote didn't take place yet. My girls are both headed for North. I want a new North. I want it included in a district wide bond. Make It Happen.
Overtaxed January 27, 2014 at 02:11 PM
How in God's name would you have liked the district to detail the recommendations in the FAQs without actually detailing the recommendations??? I'm sorry Morton did not sprinkle sugar on top of the FAQ Grow up people!
Speaking Out January 27, 2014 at 02:33 PM
Okay again I will state...wanted a bond...bond put up...not the bond that was desired. Wanted a plan....no plan but Dr. Morton's recommendation (in essence his plan) for what he will bring to the Board in either scenario, if bond passes or bond fails.....we are where we are...so let's see what the results are with this bond and what this Board decides to do from there...it truly does seem emotional many stomping around because they did not get what they want. Again it comes down to capacity and space in our other buildings...no aid...no plan...increase my taxes...I will be voting NO for this bond...plain and simple
Hilary Jordan Kunz January 27, 2014 at 02:45 PM
Robert, I am in a situation similar to yours. I have a son going into FFMS, and a daughter trying to convince me that she wants private school instead of North, (due to the conditions of the school, and the concern that cuts may have to be made to AP & IB programs). More than anything I want FFMS & North repaired. I will gladly and gratefully accept ANY guidance on how to "Make It Happen". I don't believe that at this time there is any way to rescind this weak bond. Are you aware of anyway to stop this runaway train? I don't disagree with your points, but I'm not comfortable going down another dead end path. This whole situation is a disaster, but the only opportunity we have to preserve all of the schools -unless there is some way to get this bond off the table- is to reserve the funds to repair the school, and then based upon a full assessment evaluate the entire district & float an inclusive bond. I feel the bond being forced was the first step in isolating Congers & the way it was presented to the public by the administration doesn't cover the full scope of what we are facing. If you have any way out of this...throw it out there. What we have now is awful.
Robert Ward Kurkela January 28, 2014 at 08:13 AM
Hilary, I stood up at the December 12th meeting where the bond was to be finalized. At the beginning of the meeting I spoke and said that a Congers only bond was a very bad idea. I stated that a district wide bond including Congers was the best option if any bond was to pass. I have blogged in various places that sometimes we all make mistakes and to acknowledge an error isn't a bad thing and to rescind the bond. In my opinion, the Board members who should've done this are the ones who were so adamant about passing a bond on November 14 with no plan, no information and nothing but pure emotions fueling them. They didn't listen. In reviewing my prior post where I wrote "Make It Happen" I may have been overly optimistic. I don't think anyone can do anything at this juncture. The bond is going out for a vote on February 4th and we need to vote regardless of how we ended up here.


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