Friday, September 9, 2011

Schools Open!! Email, Turf and more

Schools Open!! Congratulations to Dr. McKay, the administrative team, the teachers and the entire staff on a terrific first week of school. Also, thank you to Joe Gramando and his staff for the outstanding job they have done over the summer and this past two weeks dealing with the terrible weather conditions that has affected so many of us and our neighbors.

 I received more calls, texts and emails tonight about the schools than I did in the past two months combined. Apparently, many residents read the email (copied below) sent out by the PTA late this afternoon and had questions and concerns about the email. First, tonight, the Board approved an amended motion to accept the contract with the engineering firm for preliminary work on the potential turf field contingent upon either receiving the actual funds from the community group spearheading the effort, TCTC or TC2 or their demonstrating that the monies have been put in escrow on behalf of the district. Tonight's 5-0 vote reiterates that the Board never intended nor will spend district funds on a turf field. For those who attended the September 1st meeting and those who took the time to inquire with the district, that fact was never in dispute.

To respond to your questions about the PTA email, let me reiterate that I do not speak for the entire Board (our President, Alyson K does), I speak only for myself. 

I regret that the PTA sent the email to the community prior to asking for and understanding the facts of the issue. As they did not attend the September 1st meeting, their decision to rely on published media reports for their information lead to their own hasty email filled with innuendo and inaccuracies that in the end reflected poorly on the PTA. I am quite confident that going forward the Board and the PTA can and will resume our terrific working relationship with the common goal of helping the children of this community.

I also want to publicly thank the Sports Boosters and Jim N for all their efforts especially in coordinating the many various town and school related groups to make this effort a true community project. For the first time, Jim has managed to get five local youth sports organizations to work together in addition to several school organizations. At tonight's meeting he also extended an olive branch to the PTA to join the group effort on turf and noted his regret that they had not communicated sooner.

Should this fundraising effort prove successful, the gift of a turf field will reduce district maintenance costs by around $50,000 annually, will benefit all the district's high school JV and Varsity teams and will significantly increase the available fields for local youth organizations both in terms of hours of availability and with the current weather related closings. This is a win-win-win all around.

Let me also make it clear that the monies sought are not being siphoned from monies that would otherwise go to the district. These are completely private funds. The TC2 is working with the CSF to find ways to benefit both groups without diverting contributions from the CSF. The TC2 intends to make in clear in their fund raising efforts that they are only seeking donations for the field and do not want to affect any other donations a contributor may make. They want this to be incremental giving not replacement giving.

The Board's next regularly scheduled meeting is on September 20th at 8:15 in the HGHS academic commons. See you there.

Here is a link to the email and below is the text.

The Chappaqua Board of Education will be meeting at 6:30 tonight, Thursday, September 8th, at the school district Education Center, 66 Roaring Brook Road. This special meeting is not on the district calendar and was scheduled hastily, mainly to consider an action tabled at the Board's September 1st meeting. The action under consideration is whether the Board should approve advancing approximately $141,000 in taxpayer funds to pay for an engineering study of what has been promoted as a privately-funded effort to build a lighted turf sports field at Horace Greeley High School. Private fundraising efforts by the Chappaqua Turf Committee have just begun and the Board of Education is considering advancing the cost of the engineering study until such time, if any, that sufficient private funds are raised to reimburse the school district. Please consider attending tonight's meeting if you'd like the Board of Education to hear your views before it decides whether or not to approve the use of school district funds for this purpose during a time of severe fiscal constraint.