Hen Hud Board of Education acting unilaterally without parent or educator input

Hen Hud Board of Education acting unilaterally without parent or educator input

To the Editor,

The Hendrick Hudson Board of Education (BOE) is set to vote on a policy on April 12th that will reorganize, for the second consecutive year, the structure of the three elementary schools in the district. This change, if adopted, will likely cost the taxpayers money, and will separate students based on socioeconomic status.

The BOE plans to scrap the Princeton Plan – that was adopted this past September after three years of planning, following the announced closing of Indian Point Power Plant (which provided up to 30% of the district’s revenue). The completed Princeton Plan has consolidated all kindergarteners through first graders at Frank G. Lindsay Elementary School (FGL), all second and third graders at Buchanan-Verplanck Elementary School (B-V), and all fourth and fifth graders at Furnace Woods School (FW). This Plan has contributed to greater student equity in terms of racial diversity and socioeconomic status – it effectively makes every classroom mirror the full makeup of the community. It also is financially appropriate, as it allows for the consolidation of resources and staffing at the elementary level.

In place of the Princeton Plan, the BOE wishes to implement their “Proposal B”: (the adoption of which will be voted on during the April 12th meeting), making B-V and FW separate “K-2” community schools, and FGL a district-wide “3-5” school. We feel that this plan, touted by the BOE as a “tweak” to the Princeton Plan, represents a regression.

“Proposal B” (including the process of its adoption) is rife with problems. This plan has been created in just four weeks’ time, aided by an acting superintendent (who was hired just five weeks ago), and has not been properly vetted: no professional cost analyses have been conducted to study the impact of the change. In fact, this new plan’s structure could very well cost the taxpayers more money, as the two community schools will likely require more resources to provide equality in access to educational programs and services. This plan will also separate students based on race and socioeconomic means—according to the plan’s hastily culled data, at a 2-to-1 margin between B-V and Furnace Woods.

Most galling, the BOE has not involved vital stakeholders in this plan’s conception: the community, parents, and teachers have not been made part of the process. Instead, they have been ignored – which is against New York State Law.

We, the leaders of the Hendrick Hudson Education Association, believe – unequivocally – the Board of Education must reverse course on their hastily devised “Proposal B”. We demand a seat at the table when any change is being made to our schools – as is our right under the law, our contract, and the Board’s own policies.

The same goes for community members and parents of the district. Decisions of such magnitude must not be made without the voices of those affected being made part of the process. Their taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund BOE members’ unilateral agendas.

The Princeton Plan must be given time to be properly implemented, reviewed, and improved.

And the leadership of the Hendrick Hudson Education Association – the union of the district’s teachers – cannot, in any way, endorse nor sanction a change to our schools that would make the student bodies less equitable and diverse.

Signed, The HHEA Executive Board

Elisa Rosen, Dr. Francois Barcomb, Rachel Heese, Tara Artuso,  Nupur Pal-Kolisz, Laura Shields, James A. Rogulski