February 2001 SOS archives

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February 2001 SOS archives

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2002


Through Feb 19:

For what it is worth there is a typo on ther budget talking points I handed out. The second budget vote was defeated by 90 votes not 909.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 10, 2001.

Thanks for the great attendance at our first meeting and congratulations for making it to here on the bbs. Please feel free to post any questions or info that the group may find of interest. Thanks again for all your help and enthusiasm.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 10, 2001.

Yea! our bb is up and running: thank you, Jim! I liked our meeting on Saturday. Sorry I had to leave early, I was driving to DC to buy a sailboat, which is now sitting happily in my driveway.

I want to focus on the budget. Research exactly what it is, collect data from years past and other school districts. I'd like to focus on the budget as as expression of the values of the Onteora community, and try to define it as a fine compromise between quality and cost. Anybody want to join me?

One more thing on my mind: I don't want to talk about the mascot issue now. This doesn't mean I don't believe strongly that we need a new mascot, and that the issue will need to be revisited in the future. But when we do it right, next time, it'll work.....

-- curry rinzler (crinzler@netstep.net), February 12, 2001.

Curry, this is a good idea. There is some info in the voting data that I gave you.

It should have the budget amount from each year and the vote on the budget. You can compare the increases to the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustments) made by the government each year to see if it has indeed kept up with inflation especially with regards to the student population and dollars/student.

Another angle is to check with real estate sources to find concrete info on the effect a school district had on the value of a home.

Good hunting. CARE is actively promoting the next BOE meeting regarding the bond issue.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 12, 2001.

I would like to create a calender for the group so that we can fill it in with newspaper deadlines, public gatherings of interest, and board meetings. Anybody have any good computer skills with which to create such a calender that we can share or download? Thanks. jim and i opened a checking account together for our group..to keep it simple and cheap, we opened it in both of our names.. not S.O.S. any contributions should be made to EITHER valerie fanarjian or Jim Sofranko money may be deposited DIRECTLY into the account... JIM SOFRANKO or VALERIE FANARJIAN Wilber Bank 657-8733 routing number 0221303472 account number 118095

ANYONE who gives you money.. please write down there name, so that there will be a proper accounting of everything..

in order to placate anyone who feels funny about donating to us personally, and also to thank them... i am asking your help in drafting a receipt. points i would like to include

thank you for your contribution.. this is not a tax-exempt organization and therefore this IS NOT tax decuction.

Anyone requesting to see the accounting of this organization is free to inspect the records at the wilber bank, or at my house, by appointment..

anything else we should include?? also there is a charge for asking to see checks via the bank.. not sure whether or not to include this.

thank you all... valerie

-- valerie (vfanarjian@aol.com), February 14, 2001.

The agenda for the next SOS meeting (on this Saturday at 10am at Judy's Kitchen, Shokan) will include a discussion of topics and issues to be discussed at the public be heard portion of the Feb 23 BOE meeting. We need to consider the topic of that special BOE meeting, which is about future capital projects and the bond issue to be presented in May to the voters for building upgrades and additions. Melissa R. has asked the group for input so she can publicly address the issue, so please give it some thought if you could. Thanks. The other SOS agenda item will be to formulate a calender which will bring us up to the election date in mid-May. The idea of the calender will be to include all BOE meetings as well as any schools events. We will also want to include any local community events that we may know of in advance. This will be a living document, constantly updating, which can help us plan activities and strategies with our candidates. Give that some thought. Any input on this would be appreciated.

The last item to consider is the theme of the campaigns. We will need to address publicly appealing issues to identify with our candidates. I have gotten some info from the election consultants used in the past by the teachers union. The issues they identified (several years ago) that were important to Onteora voters were: 1)safety in schools and safe after-school programs, 2)keeping computers and technology current, 3)school system/real estate values. Think about these issues and any simple, easy ways to present them to the public.

Thanks for your interest. Please feel free to share any ideas here as it may save us time at the meetings. See you Saturday.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 14, 2001.

We also will be formulating questions to pose to the BOE candidates.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 15, 2001.

i was at the basketball game tonight, selling memberships to the ptso. m millman, f perry and g walters were all at the game. r ostrander was there also, passing out flyers about the board meeting on 2/23. the women i was sitting with at the ptso table began talking about care in a positive manner as an organization that supports the students, works to benefit taxpayers and to educate the public. these two women are w hurley parents, do not attend board meetings. how do we address parents like this? educating them about the board activities, the positions of the majority of the board, the complex issues facing the board is a complicated task. we need to begin asap. we need flyers, talking points, need to quickly establish an identity.


-- susan buckler (sbuckler@ulster.net), February 15, 2001.

Perhaps the best course is to establish a number of points of where we differ from CARE. CARE has put out enough published material that we should be able to dispute some of their points, so that it will identify us. I think we are a group of concerned parents, residents, and students who feel that the board has lost it's direction in the education of our children and the young adults in our community. It is in the educational values from which we differ from CARE. And we must simply identify those values and goals. Perhaps that can be on the agenda at the next meeting as well.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 15, 2001.

I have launched the a calendar of events. You can visit is at http://www.memo.cx/ocs/. To submit an event, please contact me.

-- Erik (erik@memo.cx), February 17, 2001.

Does anyone know the address of CARE's Web site?

-- Erik (erik@memo.cx), February 18, 2001.


-- susan buckler (sbuckler@ulster.net), February 19, 2001. Here's a brief update on what we accomplished during Saturday's meeting: We need to discuss some questions for the upcoming meeting on February 23, this Friday!! It is the meeting regarding the Onteora Buyilding plan and modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia. Please submit any questions or topics to the list here on the SOS bbs.

Erik will design and open up the SOS calendar - Done already!

Erik has stated that he believes that SAC will endorse BOE candidates this year.

Morty will actively pursue voter lists from various sources. He also has a voter form which he is asking people to fill out and send to him in a timely manner. He is hoping for 2500 names. This will help in getting out the vote and contacting constituants.

Morty is also planning strategies and mechanisms which will help us to get out the vote. He will also get the voter registration and absentee ballots info together.

Curry will be gathering info on the 2001 budget so that we keep our facts together and are able to address in a concise manner.

Maureen Millar will gather info on the modulars at Bennett and Phoenicia. We are hoping to stress accountability for the BOE's past actions to clarify the current crisis.

On Saturday March 3, We will have our next SOS meeting. This should will be the meeting in which we ask candidates to appear and ask them a series of questions to answer to our group. The questions will tend to be less issue oriented and of a more general nature regarding educational policies. Jim and Sharon will be compiling the questions (6-8) to be asked. If anyone would like to help please submit question ideas to this board and we will edit them nad present them back here for approval.

Maureen made a good case for not endorsing candidates too soon so that we are comfortable as a group with our decision.

Melissa had a helpful discussion explaining the Onteora policies toward Special Education. The idea of inclusion and the districts implementation of inclusion were defined. This is an interesting question for the candidates at our next SOS candidates meeting. "How do you feel about the policy of inclusion for Special Ed at Onteora?" Should it be expanded or limited? Perhaps Melissa can help draw up the best question.

We are also looking for someone to write the SOS mission statement on this bbs so that we can finalize it by Friday or Monday the 26th at the latest. This is needed, not only for us, but the public to understand what are our goals and purpose. Anyone want to take the first try at it?

I will be giving access to the list to Maureen Millar and Irene Brody as no one has objected to the suggestion that I made on the recent group e-mail.

Please try to keep SOS corespondance on the SOS bbs rather than on personal e-mail unless , of course, it needs to be confidential or personal. I am trying to streamline my schedule to enable me to perform as SOS president and I'm sure that would help me and others as well. Thanks.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 19, 2001.

Budget info 2/19/01 Most of this information came from a conversation with Meg Carey:

This yearís budget process begins next Monday, 2/26, at the BOE meeting, with the first group of departmental reports. Each department head will make a presentation explaining their budget requests for next year. This is a wish list, and is expected to be cut, but that comes later. The most interesting presentation most likely will be Mike Grail, the Transportation Department. The financial success or failure of the privatization of most of the bus routes will be revealed for the first time. Expect big cost overruns to be revealed, resulting in blame casting and self righteous posturing. The Special Ed budget will be presented also, and all the other departments, and this process will conclude at the meeting 3/5. Public input at each of these meetings is extremely important! On 3/19, Hal Rowe will present the Superintendentís Preliminary Budget, and we can expect the fan to be hit with you know what. What will most certainly be revealed is a double digit tax spike, and Hal will be asked to cut, cut, cut. Historically, Hal Rowe has brought great openess to the budget process, releasing info more widely and earlier than in the past. However, when it comes to cost cutting, we can expect him to ask for guidance from the BOE. Last year, when this happened, the board refused, sent the budget back without real cuts, and it was defeated by only 90 votes. Some members of the board majority actively campaigned against the budget, which is an outrageous contradiction of their responsibility. This year will be much worse. Weíre in a bubble this year: despite the austerity budget, programs havnít been cut because of 2 budget revenues from last year: the rollover of the large unspent fund balance ($1.3 million) and the retirement package savings ($800,0000). This year, this wonít happen. Soooo, even the tightest budget will mean a big tax spike, and who will decide what to cut? Will the board be able to set priorities that make sense, and make cuts that work? What roll will Hal play, since the majority will surely want to blame him, and all the other department heads, when things get rough. And if the budget is defeated again, and we get another austerity budget, the only alternative will be to cut both staff and programs, and even then, there will still be a tax spike. In fact, as money is running out this year, we may find, within the next few weeks, that programs will have to be cut this spring!! This is big. Iíll be doing research on past budgets, other districtís budgets, etc., but the info on this yearís budget will be coming out in the next few weeks, so tune in, speak up, and tell all your friends..... Curry

-- curry rinzler (crinzler@netstep.net), February 19, 2001.

Curry-You may have some guidance as to the effects of an austerity budget by looking into what, if anything, happened several years ago when the budget was last defeated in 1996-97.

-- Jim (me@ulster.net), February 19, 2001.

Curry: I found this on the New York State School Boards Association Web site...

87 percent of school budgets passed (on the first try) in 2000. The approval rate was above the 81.3 percent average from 1969 to 1999, but below the record rates of 1998 (93.5 percent) and 1999 (92.7 percent). Source: New York State Education Department

I guess Onteora was part of the 13 percent that failed. What do the other districts know that we do not?

-- Erik (erik@memo.cx), February 19, 2001.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2002

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