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PTA Council: Congers Elementary School Questions Unanswered

Clarkstown Council of PTAs President Heather Cahill issued this statement on Wednesday in response to questions from Patch about parents’ concerns and questions concerning Congers Elementary School.

Since August, the Clarkstown Council of PTAs has supported the district's response in the emergency closing of Congers Elementary as well as its temporary housing at St Augustine's. 

Council was continually contacted by many district parents with questions and concerns over the closing of Congers Elementary and how it would impact CCSD (Clarkstown Central School District) as a whole.  Council remained positive, answered all questions to the best of its ability and encouraged parents to stay informed, ask questions, attend meetings and not listen to rumors or propaganda.  

Since the November 14th Board of Education meeting when it was decided to put forth a bond in order to let the community decide the fate of Congers Elementary, Council has been contacted by countless parents with questions regarding this (February 4th) bond and its district wide implications. Unfortunately, we cannot answer these questions or direct our membership to answers because there has not been any public comment from CCSD or the Board regarding these specific concerns-the only response has been that a plan was in the process of being worked on.  

The majority of the questions Council has been asked revolve around the following themes:

  • How will passing the bond impact the average taxpayer? 
  • If Congers Elementary School is repaired, will another school or schools be closed?

  • If the 2/4/14 bond is defeated:
    • How much will the permanently closing of Congers Elementary save the district and the average taxpayer?
    • What is the contingency plan?
    • Where will the Congers Elementary students attend school starting in September 2014?
    • Which schools will be the receiving schools?
    • How will the additional Congers students affect the receiving schools? 
    • Will students who currently attend the receiving schools be redistricted to another elementary school? 
    • How will school lines be changed? 
    • Will the closing of Congers or another elementary school affect secondary placements?
    • How will the closing of Congers or another elementary school affect class size and district programs?
    • Will teachers and staff be eliminated?  

    We are less than a month from the bond vote and residents are still scratching their heads waiting for the district to publicly put forth a plan which would allow the Clarkstown residents to make an informed decision and vote with facts not possibilities, propaganda and speculation. 

    The residents of Clarkstown are expected to vote February 4th on a bond for which we do not have all the information.   

    All of the parents who have contacted Council want to know HOW the passing or defeating of this bond will directly affect their children. Parents, district wide, want to know how it will affect their child's education, their child's class size, their child's placement, as well as their own tax bill.  

    It has been almost five months since Congers Elementary has been closed. Five months and we really do not know any more then the school is closed due to major structural concerns and that Clarkstown residents will have the duty to evaluate the worth of Congers Elementary to the community and determine its fate. Until today, there has not been any communication, PR, or outreach to the community with facts, figures and costs other then what it will approximately cost to fix the building. We do not have an understanding as to what will happen IF the bond fails.  We have no understanding of how a failed bond will affect the overall landscape of the whole district, individual school lines, programs and placements. 

    These are all valid concerns and questions that must be answered and communicated to residents before anyone steps into the voting booth on February 4th. 

    Related articles -----

    Congers Elementary Realignment, Taxpayer Cost For Repair Bond 

    Congers Elementary Bond Vote Set, Potential Redistricting Plan Underway

    Board Votes For Congers Bond And Stays In Race To The Top

    Congers Elementary Repairs Could Cost $8.3 Million

    Additional Engineering Study Of Congers Elementary Approved

    Board Vote to Finalize Lease For St. Augustine's

    Congers Classes Moving To St. Augustine's Over Columbus Day

    Congers Students Will Move To St. Augustine's School 

    Congers Kids Want Their School Fixed

    Motion To Move Congers Students To St. Augustine's Not Supported

    New School Visits Scheduled For Congers Students

    New School Tours Available For Congers Families

    Hugs And Smiles Greet Congers Students At Laurel Plains

    Congers Elementary School Closed For At Least One Year

    Congers Kids Help Out Their School

    Congers Elementary Parents Seek Assurances About School's Future

    Congers School Closure Meeting Friday, Students Shifted To Other Schools

    Parents Turn Out For Congers School Meeting

    Congers Elementary School Declared Unsafe Will Not Open

     

     

    Robert Ward Kurkela January 08, 2014 at 11:00 PM
    Heather posted her email and Mike's reply online yesterday. Here's Milke's reply: "Heather, thanks for your email. A flyer will be distributed this week with the estimated cost to our taxpayers. The Administration is working on a recommendation to the Board on where we would put our Congers students if the bond passes or if it's defeated. I'm hopeful that we will able to share this information with the community at our board meeting on Thursday. That said, the information we will receive may change somewhat based on kindergarten registration which starts in early February. The purpose of the Community Workshop is to share information with the Community regarding the financial challenges we will be facing in the coming years. Hopefully we will receive a number of recommendations that the Board can consider during the budget process which will begin shortly. Regards, Mike Aglialoro Board President Clarkstown Central School District"
    ADK January 09, 2014 at 08:28 AM
    In order for the public to make a truly informed,mobjective decision on the alue of fixing the school, we need to know a couple of things: --what is the cost on a yearly basis for the vacant school --what is the value and marketability of the present facility and surrounding property --what would the value and marketability be for a repaired school should it be deemed unnecessary in future years? Without these answers, the $6.5MM has no context with which to make a fair comparison.if the property can be sold "as is" in a matter of months for $5MM the public might make a different decision than if we come to find that the current property has minimal resale value and will take years to sell, while incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in upkeep. Notwithstanding the very real concerns of the Cngers parents, this kind of financial analysis is critical.
    Marietta Sanchez January 09, 2014 at 09:34 AM
    There are many other considerations to take into account: 1- The future on New York State Taxes and increased spending on Medicaid. The new tax bill received this week breaks down exactly how much each household is already paying. Astronomical. With hundreds of thousands more entering the system due to ObamaCare, your taxes will increase accordingly. (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/12/12/increase-in-medicaid-sign-ups-could-put-pressure-on-health-care-system/ ) New York State already ranks highest in the nation for state and local taxes. 2- County taxes just increased 10.4%. We don't get that increase back if 2015's increase is lower. ( http://newcity.patch.com/groups/week-ahead/p/legislature-sets-new-tax-rate-for-2014 ) 3- The Town of Clarkstown ignored the state's 2% tax cap and raised taxes 3.5% for 2014. Again, we don't get that increase back if in 2015 they stick with the cap, which is unlikely. ( http://newcity.patch.com/groups/politics-and-elections/p/2014-clarkstown-budget-increases-taxes-35-percent ) 4- Enrollment has been declining in Clarkstown Schools. Unemployment is still high, the small business ObamaCare Mandate was put off until 2015. The number of homes for sale in Clarkstown is high and foreclosures continue. This bond is a financial folly. Taxpayers can not afford to borrow money and burden an aging population with future debt, for a small population that can be accommodated within the existing infrastructure. There is no cost for an empty building if that building no longer exists. The building should be razed and the property sold if possible in this market.
    Christian Jauntig January 09, 2014 at 01:27 PM
    Building is historical.
    SamS January 09, 2014 at 03:42 PM
    Marietta keeping that building vacant or selling to the highest bidder will surely send the property values in congers down. When that occurs I hope they don't all file for a tax certiorari. Imagine that impact on all of our taxes in the rest of Clarkstown.
    Watchdog January 09, 2014 at 04:14 PM
    SAMs , you are dreaming. It would have zero effect.
    SamS January 09, 2014 at 04:25 PM
    Watchdog- a vacant building that is left to deteriorate wouldn't? Why not get a plan together for the fate of that building? At least when chestnut grove closed in my neighborhood years ago there was a plan. If not I would have done the same thing congers residents will.
    Watchdog January 09, 2014 at 04:36 PM
    Sam...demolish it, sell the property for commercial development and put it on the tax rolls.
    Clarkstown Dad January 09, 2014 at 06:48 PM
    @Christian ... it's not historical, it's just old To others, I agree .... tear it down ..... do not sell property, just make a park or put a ball field on it
    Clarkstown Dad January 09, 2014 at 09:49 PM
    Oh my god ..... listing to these comments from the floor at board meting ..... based on these comments & questions it is so evident that people just don't listen. Almost every question asked was addressed in the meeting already.
    Robert Ward Kurkela January 09, 2014 at 09:58 PM
    I was thinking the same exact thing, Clarkstown Dad. When you are fueled by pure emotion you obviously aren't actively listening.
    Clarkstown Dad January 09, 2014 at 10:22 PM
    Malgeri does it again .... another divided board with his compliments. Seems he doesn't play well with others if he's not in charge ... and Conti again attacking the Administration
    Robert Ward Kurkela January 09, 2014 at 10:25 PM
    Joe Malgieri, I am only one blogger. Here I am. I'm not afraid to discuss the bond under my real name. If you want to talk to me you know how to reach me. Thanks. Bob.
    Christian Jauntig January 09, 2014 at 11:00 PM
    The administration deserve what they got and it is the boards job to make sure they are doing their jobs correctly.
    Christian Jauntig January 13, 2014 at 10:43 AM
    Laurell plains students were out if school for a week if i remember correctly and then classes were held at clarkstown south in the auditorium, gym, and other class rooms. We did the best with the space we had until we found space available for rent at the Hill crest school. Laurel plains had classes their until their building was cleared. I dont believe it is fair to compare the situations as they were very different.
    New City Madonna January 13, 2014 at 10:52 AM
    Christian, that sounds like quite a bit of displacement for the children back then. I believe it certainly is fair to compare the 2 situations if what you're saying is true. Were special education children shuffled around when the Laurel Plains crisis hit? Now I'm curious to know how the Laurel Plains parents acted in public and at Board of Education meetings back then. Did they receive encouragement from parents of the other schools? From Congers parents?
    Christian Jauntig January 13, 2014 at 10:49 PM
    It is a very different situation. All took place during the school year, was bot a huge financial burden on the district, as well as many other issues. I am not sure about the specifics of the special education program.
    Christian Jauntig January 13, 2014 at 10:49 PM
    Not*

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