While the Clarkstown School Board approved a February 4th,
2014 public vote on a $6.5 million bond to repair the Congers Elementary School,
residents learned the administration is preparing a plan to reassign that
school’s students if the bond fails.
The school board voted five to two in favor of setting Tuesday, Feb. 4th as the date for voters in the Clarkstown School District to cast their ballots on a bond to repair the school, which was closed in August after being declared unsafe. Parents and some board members had sought a larger and broader bond that would include funds for new roofs needed at the district’s other schools. But that effort failed to get enough board support to pass. Parents have expressed concerns that a bond designated solely for repairs of Congers Elementary would not get the backing of voters outside their tightknit community.
After several references to redistricting and questions from the audience during Thursday’s meeting, Board President Mike Aglialoro said the administration was working on a plan for a possible reassignment of Congers students if the bond failed. He said the potential redistricting plan would be shared at one of the January board meetings.
“The superintendent and his staff are working on a potential redistricting for Congers students,” he said. “We’ll back at either the January 9th or the 23rd meeting to communicate that with the community so they’ll have that before the bond vote.”
Congers parents reacted to what they heard.
Allison Leuser said the board should have been more straightforward from the beginning about developing a redistricting plan.
“He just cemented it right there,” she said.
Leuser said the board previously told the community it was a district wide plan when it was really focused on Congers.
“I wanted clarification and he did clarify they will treat Congers separately,” said Eileen Broderick.
She expressed concerns that the timing of the release of the Congers redistricting plan would impact the way people voted on the $6.5 million bond.
Leuser said parents in other parts of Clarkstown should realize any redistricting of Congers students could affect their neighborhood schools.
In September, Congers students were reassigned to the New City, Laurel Plains and Lakewood elementary schools. Parents complained their children were not getting the appropriate services, there were busing issues and their children were upset. Over the Columbus Day weekend, the kindergarten through fifth grade classes were transferred to the former St. Augustine’s School in New City which the district rented out for the remainder of the school year.
The board also approved a $19,000 redistricting study by a four to three vote, which will take several months to complete. Assistant Superintendent John LaNave said the district has never had a demographic study done and it will provide another data point and provide socio economic information in addition to the census data and school enrollments possessed by the district.
Aglialoro said the data would be broader than the live birth data used for the budget presentation.
“So, this data is much broader than that,” he said. “It is much more objective. It looks at real estate, potential housing developments.”
Rockland BOCES staff will prepare the report, which will be posted on the district website when finished.