March 17-31 2001 SOS archives : LUSENET : Mulm : One Thread

March 17-31 2001 SOS archives

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2002


IMPORTANT SOS MEETING!!! IMPORTANT SOS MEETING!! The next SOS Meeting is this Saturday and will be the day we finally interview and select candidates. It will start at 9am at Judy's Kitchen in Shokan on Route 28. The day will last until at least 1pm with, hopefully, time after each candidate to discuss their positions. After the last scheduled candidate, we will vote to select our choice. Please be sure to attend this important meeting.

-- Jim (me@home.writin), March 18, 2001.

Bobbie Schnell has requested permission to join the fray on the SOS BBS. She is a parent in the district who would like to be involved but has been unable to attend the SOS meetings. Anyone wishing to comment on her invitation by me to join the list please speak up soon. Thanks. CARE has endorsed the candidacies of Fred Perry and Chris Johansson for the Onteora Board of Education. Since they have their horses at the starting line, Let the race begin.

-- Jim (yea@home.workinonit), March 18, 2001.

Bobbie would be a great asset to the bbs! That's a Chris-he rather than a Chris-she that CARE have endorsed, isn't it? Just want to get my pronouns right.

-- Carol (, March 19, 2001.

Yes, a he-Chris.

-- Jim (, March 19, 2001.


-- Jim (Me@home.sleeping), March 20, 2001.

I would like SOS members to be able to vote for the candidates via e- mail if they are not able to attend the Saturday meeting and vote. Please send me a confidential email to At the meeting your name and vote will be tallied confidentially. Eric and I briefly discussed the voting procedure and, after giving it some thought, I agree with him. The best way to hold the vote is to give a preference of 1 to 4 for each candidate. That is, 4 being the best and 1 being the least preferred candidate. The candidates are Meg Carey, Michael Goodman, Kathy Hochman and Tom Rosato. Please send an e-mail that has each candidate's name with a single number from 1 to 4 attached to it if you wish to vote but cannot attend Saturday's meeting. Thanks.

I also have no problem with inviting any other interested parties to the meeting without voting privilages, of course.

I will give Bobbie Schnell access to our site today.

-- Jim (jim@home.gettingvotes), March 20, 2001.

Iíll try to keep this brief: Facilities Committee, Monday 8:30am ēChuck Snyder dropped this bombshell: there will be $3.17 million left in the budget at the end of the year!! Maureen: you were right (thunderous applause....)!!! This is simply because everyone padded their budget, and it will never happen again, so they say, itís a windfall for this year only.... This news was revealed at the BOE meeting later, and itís far reaching for our election campaign: it turns the fiscal foolery of the bad guys into a non-issue, except possibly the transportation saga......

ēJD wants to complete the gutting of the transportation dept., making everything private, and then wants to use the bus garage as the new location for the Central Administration, plus the maintenance dept. offices. Then, he wants to convert the downstairs space in the main building into a new cafeteria and library for the middle school !!! This is a hairbrained scheme, very costly and without any connection to real long range planning....

BOE meeting, Monday, 7pm ēChuck presented his info, and you could see that the bad guys were very happy. Frank Gorleski made a dinky presentation on Instruction budget, and made it seem like itís the least important thing happening. There was a surprise executive session at the very end: Hal said it was to bring charges against him, but they didnít succeed in doing it last night..... Stay tuned, cause they will

ēErik was seated at the table, between Wendy and Joe V., spoke just once, but very effectively, about smoking in the school.... It was great to have him up there......

ēThe next meeting, 3/27, is about the modulars, then, on 4/2, Hal will present the trial budget. The big spike ainít gonna be there, so it wonít be as hard a sell as anticipated

ēTherefore: we must concentrate on the negative energy issues in this election: suspicion, accusations, investigations, and budget miserlyness versus education. I propose that we raise lots of money for newspaper ads, ask Joan Schuman to help us with text and graphics, and begin spreading the word asap.

ēThis is the last thing: no one is in touch with West Hurley PTA yet. Anybody got an idea?? See ya on Sat....

-- curry (, March 20, 2001.

From Curry: "It's bad news/good news: the bad guys will claim it proves mismanagement, but it keeps that steep tax spike from happening this year......" Freeman discusses the numbers

-- Carol (, March 21, 2001.

The Onteora SAVI program got good coverage by Lisa Phillips on WAMC this afternoon, mention of Sayde and the young man who is maybe the vice-president (?). They talked about how difficult it can be for the 7th graders from all the different towns suddenly thrown together. One thing I've noticed from a couple of years of elementary soccer are the negative contributions made by the parents and coaches. There is an incredible amount of nasty bitching about the opposing teams/towns, and I can't think that that sets things up for suddenly finding unity of purpose when they all finally find themselves on the same side in middle school.

-- Carol (, March 21, 2001.

Hal Rowe discusses the modulars in the Freeman today. I'll probably be coming to the meet-the-candidates session on Saturday, will try to bring little cheat sheets that you can tape onto your computer on how you too can make "hotlinks" like the one above. It's not always easy to demonstrate online, because sometimes it can produce live links that messes up other coding.

-- Carol (, March 22, 2001.

hey strangers.Gettin' pretty quiet out there. Too many bad guys?At some point one is forced to ask what one is defending?Were Hal and Dennis asleep when they decided to leave 3.5!!!! mil out there in the budget, just in case? That's more than 10%, right? Does not look good.Yes , we can attack Marty and Joe V. for being asleep at the wheel and missing the whole event , but frankly Joe Doan is starting to look pretty justified in his attacks on district bizniz practices.I hate that.Anybody know why Chris Johannsen is running for SB?See you soon.

-- mmillar (, March 22, 2001.

I want to make those links!!!! YES!

-- mmillar (, March 22, 2001.

Since I haven't been to one of these Judie's meetings before, what's the protocol as far as getting food? Do I put in my order and the waitress will bring it to me while Goodman is holding us spell-bound as in a club, do I get there early and eat so that I can pay full atention to the carnage unfolding in front of me? Whaddaya usually do?

-- Carol (, March 22, 2001.

The usual thing is to order and eat during the meeting.

-- Jim (Jim@home.writing), March 23, 2001.

Marino can stay. Freeman online report.

-- Carol (, March 23, 2001.

I've invited Joan Schuman to attend tomorrow's meeting. Joan has an advertising agency in Kingston, is a good friend, and will help us with our ads!!

-- curry (, March 23, 2001.

Urgent -- does someone have Diane Kvistad's phone number? Ted needs to contact her about getting in touch with the printer for the signs. Please email him at , or phone him at 657-7057 (# is both home and work)

-- Carol (, March 23, 2001.

Here's something to note about the tactical timing for online Freeman responses, as evidenced by the online responses to the modular air quality article. Barbara Clare got the first salvo in, but Tobe's over-rode hers and went to the top, and when mine came along at dinner it pushed hers off the page and just left mine and Tobe's visible. We may want to pay more attention to strategically posting responses, every little bit may help.

-- Carol (, March 23, 2001.

Hi all: I've been busy making phone calls and talking to people around ulster county. There's a general feeling that Shaw is hired by many districts and represents them when parents take them to hearing. The mandates are clear and 3 people I spoke to won. Shaw, it seems, doesn't create the mess, but is the litigator representing district. He doesn't have a "bad guy" image. This may be good cause he may not want his reputation fiddled with by Doan's insanity. I'm very upset about the many millions. We need to stratigise and be sure what the facts are. I hate feeling like maybe the administrators blew it. Please reasure me! Randy Collins has been actively talking to PTA at Phoenicia and has support. They are writing a letter and putting it out for all to sign in the Phoenicia office. If that doesn't rally enough signitures they plan to go around and get 'em. It's simply stating don't take away the modulars til a plan is in place....either temporary or permanent. I also spoke with Randy tonight and he is very supportive of our efforts. I have a few people interested in our bbs. Tina Harp, mom of 3 at Phoenicia, spoke at public be heard about modulars. Judy Newton, child advocate, kid up at high school Randy Collins, phoenicia pricipal They are all my friends and feel they would be an asset to our group. This is silly, but is there a way to get spell check on this thing? I need it! See you all tomorrow...

-- melissa (, March 23, 2001.

For those on the board who didn't make it to the meeting at Judie's Kitchen this morning: Jim will be collecting votes for the 4 candidates until 4PM on Monday. Rank the 4 in order, giving 4 points to your most favored candidate,1 to the least.

My own personal feeling is that Meg is by far the strongest, with both the Board experience and theoretical/practical educational experience to be a good member. Tom has these too, and the same passion, but I think Meg needs the support most. While seeming to be better informed and more competent than many of the current Board members, Kathy didn't seem to really have the drive and connections. Michael is very educationally focused, but with him it might be Mr. Rogers among the ravening wolves. We must not forget that we need to have a long attention span, however, and that we may want to consider some of the losing candidates next year, depending on who is in the field.

Erik was concerned about the mascot issue being a point that could bring defeat to both Tom and Meg. I think that any effort to to show them as having "mascot cooties" would backfire on CARE, since people really don't want to talk about the mascot whatsoever. If Meg and Tom simply say that the voters have spoken, and that the mascot is not an issue, they can move on. Tom's making a concerted effort this time to court the various unions in the school system, which I think will serve him well.

Someone mentioned concern about the sign mock-ups Ted brought for Meg. That is not connected with any proposed SOS endorsement of Meg, it is my personal grabbing of Ted by the lapels and saying, "here's how you can help, dear."

-- Carol (, March 24, 2001.

SOS ALERT --- SOS ALERT --- SOS ALERT Anyone who did not make it to the meeting on Saturday should know that we had a very informative and helpful meeting with potential board candidates. It not only gave us a thorough introduction to the candidates but helped us in formulating ideas for what may be good campaign material with which to work. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped in this process. And for staying so long!

Anyone wishing to vote for the candidates are encouraged to do so after conferring with any of the SOS members who attended as to what impressions the candidates made on us. Please feel free to call or e- mail either myself or anyone else who attended.

The process is to vote for each candidate and give them a vote from 1 to 4 with 4 being the most favorable vote and 1 being the least favorable vote. Anyone wishing to vote must do so by 4pm on Monday, March 26 to me via phone at 657-2099 or e-mail


-- Jim (Jim@home.gettingkidsinbed), March 24, 2001.


Anyone who did not make it to the meeting on Saturday, March 24th should know that we had a very informative and helpful meeting with potential board candidates. It not only gave us a thorough introduction to the candidates but helped us in formulating ideas for what may be good campaign material with which to work. Thanks to everyone who attended and helped in this process. And for staying so long!

Anyone wishing to vote for the candidates are encouraged to do so after conferring with any of the SOS members who attended as to what impressions the candidates made on us. Please feel free to call or e- mail either myself or anyone else who attended.

The process is to vote for each candidate and give them a vote from 1 to 4 with 4 being the most favorable vote and 1 being the least favorable vote. Anyone wishing to vote must do so by 4pm on Monday, March 26 to me via phone at 657-2099 or e-mail

This is your last chance to have any input before we select two candidates to support based on this vote. So, please, speak up and/or vote if you have not already.


-- Jim (, March 24, 2001

Answers Melissa requested last week if anyone would mind if the following people could join the SOS bbs. Please voice any opinion in the next day or so. "I have a few people interested in our bbs. Tina Harp, mom of 3 at Phoenicia, spoke at public be heard about modulars. Judy Newton, child advocate, kid up at high school Randy Collins, phoenicia pricipal They are all my friends and feel they would be an asset to our group."

I have no problem with any of the above people but please be sure Randy Collins is aware of the political partisianship he will be getting involved in with in SOS and that he is comfortable with that affiliation especially in the political climate this board has created. Obviously this is his own decision, but I offer a word of caution for his own good to be careful about this involvement as I'm almost certain it would get around town. It may be better to have such an ally without such a direct affiliation.

Any other opinions out there on this??

-- Jim (Jim@home.tired), March 24, 2001.

Onteora Indian is the lead story in the Freeman today, concerning the upcoming US Commission on Civil Rights vote. Given the stated intransigence of Millman and his cronies to bow to anything that doesn't have big, sharp, pointy teeth, my immediate response is that we must not rise to the bait, and must not respond to any provocations. We'll be talking about it on the STAND board, I'll recap any decisions to this board.

-- Carol (, March 25, 2001.

An update on things happening. Melissa and I are working on getting more votes out in Shandaken. We have made an alliance with Kathy Aley (who Doan investigated at Onteora). She supports us discreetly but has indicated she will write a supportive public letter for our candidates before the election. Kathy was the former Assistant Supervisor in the town of Shandaken and has lots of contacts there.

We are also speaking to people involved in the Dean Gitter controversy in Shandaken. I am meeting Monday with Pat Elison who held the former Democratic Chair in Shandaken. She has voter lists and we may share some data to help each other out. She seems supportive. Kudos to Melissa for this link. We also have others which Kathy Aley has provided and we are pursuing.

Morty will be posting on this BBS this week a definitive report and dates on the correct and timely procedures for voter registration and absentee ballots.

Monday 4pm is the deadline for proxy votes. Please vote if you haven't already!!

-- Jim (Me@home.writin), March 25, 2001.

3/24 meeting was great. The candidates were prepared and ready. There strengths and weaknesses did show. My impressions and note taking is the following. I'm trying to as accurate as possible, if anyone has different view PLEASE let us know it. It may help others to never is easy to decide, so, put this in the mix: MIKE GOODMAN was very knowledgable on kid/school matters. He's a guidance counceler at Baily School, Kingston, worked with kids in Inward Bound program that addressed why kids aren't successful. Involved in high school mentoring programs. Said he's not as in touch with political piece. He expressed wanting to be a bridge to fix communication of school board. Referred to seniors and tax concerned people as tunnel visioned about taxes. He would encourage community service by kids to interact with seniors etc. He believes bad decisions are expensive. Very supportive of Erik and SAC. He'd like to promote programs that get kids in job shadowing programs. He seemed very hands on and roll up sleeves person. Pointed out that retention costs money, kids not wanting to be successful costs money. My impression was he believes kids failing and schools failing cost money. Kids social and behavorial needs are greater than acedemics. He feels kids won't succeed acedemically til the other is addressed. Articulate and sincere, not in touch with boards political moves, a good resource for kids and programs. New face, strong family ties to community.

KATHY HOCHMAN has financial background, works at Resource for Accessable Living in Kingston as parent/child advocate. Has much experience in surrounding school districts advocating at special ed committee meetings and hearings. Promotes working together for kids. Not happy with hiring of Shaw. Feels board should utilize department heads and adminstrators for information. supportive of student involvement on board. Supports mentoring and job shadowing programs. Pointed out the best job opportunities in this area are cashier and stocking positions in Walmart etc. Wants to get kids aware of other job roles. Involved in PTSO, target parents to be involved at middle school, after school activities. Wants programs that address social and emotional issues at school. Wants student input. Poised and strong on special ed issues. Not as strong on other topics. Willing, but didn't seem tough enough to withstand this school board. Very kid centered. New face. Member of CARE. Explains she wants to create change from within and appreciate all opinions.

MEG CAREY is very experienced on board 3 years. Her credentials and experiences are child ed degree, taught elementary 7 years, taught 1 yr at Woodstock Day School, taught Adult Education at UCCC & Columbia Learning Center, Drug&Abuse Program at Mental Health, is a mom woodstock PTA, playground committee, 10 yrs ago member of SOS, shared decision making site team for parent involvement, 3 yrs on high school site team, attended many conferences. Believes the board has become a "board of litigation not education over the last 2 yrs." Believes kids come first. Priorities are student acievment, board get back to trusting administrators, preparing students for Regents, after school programs, capit projects, recommit to shared decision making. Encouraging staff development, better teachers understand multiple intellegences, wants after school activities for all kids. She stated making a policy or goal to create better communication. In support of resourses/money = better school programs. Wants community service, hands on student involvement. Explained budget fund balance issue as Dennis Geisler using a certain accounting practice that errored on the side of caution to make sure enough money was in certain item lines that were volital and could cost a large amount of money. This has been happening for past 5 years. Nothing new. There's a large $900,000 as part of 3.million for central offices dillema. The 3.million number got smaller and closer to usual carryover. The carry over each year has lessoned. (I was not totally clear on all this) Meg is amazing. she's gained so much experience and puts the puzzle pieces together. she is enthusiastic and seems up for the challenge.

TOM ROSATTO sat on board for 6 months. Is building grounds head for BOCES. Has experience with internal workings of large school settings all over Ulster County. Knows the checks and balance system well. Wants to heal the division in community. Foster quality education. Supportive of Eric and SAC. Would like more electives, computer labs, open time to explore and be creative, student programs like radio brodcast, get student input. Sensitive to family busy, encourage extended family members to attend concerts etc., schedule meetings to not go forever. Wants to change environment to foster respect between adults and students. Believes schools are involved with social /emotions piece. Wants safe environment, air quality, metal problems. Against "0" tolerence, no drug sniffing dogs. Civil rights issue and due process compromised. Wants to use fund balance for durable goods. Lessons demand on upcoming budget. Doesn't like Shaw and negitive impact. She is associated with mascot issue. Strong personallity. Associated with mascot issue. Lost many elections.

So, there it is. I attempted to just put facts out that I heard or were discussed in our group. Hope this helps.

-- melissa (, March 25, 2001.

This is for Morty...I was talking to Pat Elison, once democratic party head in Shandaken. She said that the Voter Registration CD is not up to the minute. She calls Voter Reg and asks them to print out the section she wants and it includes people who registered very recently...more up to date.

-- melissa (, March 25, 2001.

As Jim eloquently put it on the mascot board, "Of course, we should not comment on it at all. When the issue comes up in the campaign, we stress it is an issue that has been addressed locally and the voters have made their position clear. Why bring it up again for political purposes? If the Feds mandate it, then Onteora will respond and do the right thing to preserve it's Federal funding." Move along folks, nothing to see here, move along... Let us hope that Barbara Clare's online comments in response are indicative of the general CARE viewpoint on that. It may have a somewhat innoculatory effect, and we can certainly now quote her on this when it is convenient for us to do so.

-- Carol (, March 25, 2001.

The Freeman on the moldy modulars Gods, I can't believe it -- I managed to mess up the hot links tutorial I made available at Saturday's meeting. When doing the HTML for the link there should be an equal sign = between the href and the quotes. Jim, destroy the leftover ones, I'll make up new ones.

-- Carol (, March 26, 2001.

SOS - ALERT It's 4:02pm on Monday the 26th of March and SOS has tallied the votes for it's first endorsement of Onteora BOE candidates.

The results are as follows:

Meg Carey 43 Tom Rosato 34 Kathy Hochman 18 Mike Goodman 15

Congratulations to Meg and Tom!!! I look forward working together with them in this election and thank them for their patience with our selection process.

I will call the other candidates to inform them of the results and ask for their support.

I will also immediately send the SOS bbs password to Meg and Tom for their much anticipated participation. Thanks to everyone for all the help in this process.

-- Jim (Jim@home.countingvotes), March 26, 2001.

3/26/91 Towards the end of the Michael Goodman interview at the SOS meeting, Sat am, a phone call came in for me, from Cinnamon, my wife . Maybe some of you noticed when I took the call, and maybe I seemed a little shook up when I returned.

Well, guess what? Fred Perry is suing me for $550,000 for libel, because of the letter I wrote to the Ulster Townsman right after Onajeís trial, saying that FP lied under oath, committed perjury, and should be removed from the BOE. Onaje, by the way, lost his job as a result of this trial: Donnaís family has been hurt very badly.

How timely to be able to revisit this isuue just before the election. I was upset and angry when I wrote the letter, but had almost forgotten about the whole sordid matter......thanks, Fred, you scumbag, for reminding me that you lied under oath, thatís itís extremely well documented, and you havnít yet been punished....

Of course, itís a little scary, but Rob Ricken said I have little to worry about because the absolute defense for libel and slander is the truth!! Iím waiting to hear from my Homeownerís Insurance that they will defend me under my umbrella policy, I hope, I hope, but meanwhile: Iím going public with this news as of right now, and I want to publicize just what happened to the greatest possible extent. Iím getting transcripts of the trial, would like to get copies to all the libraries, on a website, distribute excerpts by mail and ads, and generally nail this horrible person to the wall.

Any ideas of how I should handle the media? And, please, somebody sit next to me at the BOE meeting tomorrow night.....

ps: great meeting on Sat (otherwise): Meg and Tom are great candidates and I'm looking forward to working closely with them on the election

-- curry (, March 26, 2001.

I'm so proud of the great job we did on Saturday. It isn't easy going through the process. I'm also pleased that Meg and Tom have our endorsement. Ya know, sometimes it's true...give em enough rope they'll hang themselves. It's their arogance and personal agenda's that got us all here. Maybe their arogance will do themselves in! This is for Curry....I'm sitting right next to you :)

-- melissa (, March 26, 2001.

I'm sitting right next to you too Bud. No worries here, don't public figures presume public beatings? Your participation has been so upful and excellent Curry. Please don't let them scare you ,it's surely harassment....and as you said to me.. I'll happily contribute toward the lawyer. All

-- mmillar (, March 26, 2001.

Dennis Yerry has asked to be allowed into the SOS bbs site. I will give him the password in a day or two if no one objects.

-- Jim (, March 27, 2001.

Melissa, I was in the back and couldn't see it all, but was it true that the board started waving crosses and garlic at you as you dared to Mention the Unmentionable, i.e., the fate of the Phoenicia modulars? ;)

-- Carol (, March 27, 2001.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for your endorsement and support. When those people he/she respects recognize and endorse that person, that recognition carries a very deep and gratifying meaning. It goes with out saying that we have our work cut out for us and that the task ahead will be very difficult. I could not think of a finer group of people to stand with during the fray. THANK YOU. Respectfully Tom Rosato

-- Thomas J. Rosato (, March 28, 2001.

Our sincere thanks for the endorsement you have given to Meg. We will work hard to earn the trust of the voters and to keep the flasme of educational excellence burning. Meg & Tobe

-- Tobe & Meg (, March 28, 2001.

SOS MEETING - Saturday 10am - Judy's Kitchen There is an SOS meeting on Saturday at Judy's Kitchen in Shokan at 10am. Please start to ask friends for donations which we urgently need. Also we need more hands-on-help in the campaign now that we have chosen the candidates. Please try to attend and bring as many other interested parties as possible. Thanks.

Val has mentioned to me that Judy would prefer that we all park in the rear of the building so as not to discourage business with the front parking lot full. Thanks for your cooperation.

-- Jim (Jim@home.groaningwithastomachache), March 28, 2001.

Subject: Re: pushed onto the firing range Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 16:38:41 -0600 From "Charles E. Yow, Esq." To: References: 1 I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. We have been in Eastern Europe, should be in bed catching up on sleep and adjusting to the time zone differences, etc... but having been away from the computer for the last week+ makes it logical to check e-mail instead of sleeping :-)

Fred Perry is suing you? Does he have a lawyer? If he does, his lawyer needs to review the standard regarding defamation and public officials/public persons. The Hustler/Falwell case is pretty clear, it is hard to defame public person, official or otherwise. Seems his suit will open him to a suit by you for malicious prosecution, as well as allow for discovery part of which could delve into his neo- nazi/Klan affiliations/activities. In this regard this is something I doubt he would want exposed, and if he lies under oath that is even more important.

-- goofy (, March 28, 2001.

Now that i'm on this list, I'm glad to see Charles' response to Curry. Can we open this can of worms wide before the elections? Curry needs to: 1. protect himself with the BEST legal advice and help. 2. Get our support in whatever way he deems appropriate. 3. Help get the truth out for all to se. Tobe PS Meg, being computer illiterate (I know, I know...I keep trying) will respond to anything that's posed to her by looking over my shoulder as I hunt and peck and try to correct my typos before sending her responses off. She is great at phone calls!

-- (, March 29, 2001.

i know i have repeatedly asked this same question in several different ways..but i am trying it again.. i need a statement, a platform.. any kind of sound byte for when i have a voting citizens ear for a moment.. a brochure would be even better... so far, i have been using Meg's "board of litigation" line, but i need something concrete to get all those on-the-fence voters to jump over to our side. ALSO.. i am targeting young voters, those that are off in college, or are working and have intimate (?) knowledge regarding how invasive, unproductive, destructive a bad a school board can be, so i would love email addresses of any students of voting age , quickly, in case i need to get absentee forms out to them. see you on saturday, valerie

-- valerie (, March 30, 2001.

Val - I think your question is a very valid one which is, unfortunately, very difficult to answer. It is something that we clearly need to do by better identifying and understanding issues. And in the process it should become clearer. When we get materials and our ideas together, now that we have candidates, it should, hopefully, become more focused. But for now, here's a try.

The board majority has been in control for nearly a year and what have they accomplished?

They have intimidated administrators and created a climate of fear with costly investigations and litigation. This has led the Onteora staff to consider the ramifications of their everey action based on fear of losing their jobs rather than making sound decisions for our children based on educational values. This has the potential to hurt our children in many, many ways.

The Board gave back to the taxpayers the unencumbered fund balance. Many taxpayers received a school tax break this past year due to this action by the board. And the public was happy. But many seasoned professionals consider this a short term gain for the public and a long term loss for the district. This a provided a cushion of funds available to the district for emergencies and now it is gone away. A certain amount of this unexpended fund money was thrown back into the following year's budget as revenue and thus lowered taxes and stabilized the tax base. But now, because of this, the school budget is likely to rise steeply in the following years making it more difficult for the budget to be approved yearly by the voters. This is a long term negative goal for the district.

What policy and goals has the board set for itself in the past year to further enhance the educational values of our community?

Fred Perry wanted suggestion boxes for the Board of Education so that dissatisfied teachers and parents could make complaints or accusations while remaining anonymous. While it may seem like a trivial request, it does indicate the tenor of the present board majority. Let's think about it. A suggestion box circumvents the process in which constructive dialogue between a teacher, administrator or parent can be achieved and gets the board involved in micromangaging the daily running of the schools. That is simply not the business of a school board.

Imagine if you had employees with whom you worked with daily and with whom you had porofessional relationships with and you had a process in place if someone was dissatisfied. But your boss enabled a process to circumvent your authority, those relationships and that process. It would cut you off at the knees in doing your job effectively. That is what this board has repeatedly tried to do. Micromange the jobs that we pay highly skilled professionals to do without any respect or consideration for that educators' experience, education and, in many instances, insight at all. This breaks down an important trust between the board and the administration, teachers and staff. It doesn't take much to realize that someone (teachers and staff) working in such an environment of distrust and fear will not put their best work forward for their employer (School Board) if in fear of retribution.

But I have not yet seen any educational agenda this board has set forth. No goals. No priorities related to education. None.

They have been so busy looking for things to charge people with and ruin careers, families, and lives, that education was left behind somehere else about a year ago. They preferred to work hard on creating a situation, by hiring the outside lawyer Shaw, in which they could develop a scenerio in which blame could be assigned to honest people where there is nothing wrong. They accuse, therefore there must be guilt. They are desperately searching, with these investigations, to find something or anything they can misconstrue to be inappropriate.

Meanwhile, the mold in the Bennett modulars keeps getting worse. Milman said that the capital building project would be the first thing on the agenda after the last election. Never happended. Overcrowding continues. No forward plan for construction other than the one they dusted off from last year. And they bring it our right before the budget discussions.

Now they are filing complaints against Hal Rowe, their own superintendent, with the NY State Department of Education. This is obviously an attempt to remove Hal Rowe. Hal Rowe, with a distinguished 30-plus year career, has only 2 years left on his current contract before he retires. It will cost the district a lot of money to follow through on this and will probably not be resolved before his contract expires anyway. Why?? For what purpose? Can anyone clearly explain the motives of this board?? Is it because Hal often disagrees with Mr. Doan? If you examine Mr. Doans past track record that may seem apparent.

So I touched on a few issues and maybe someone can put that into a sound bite or a better, more easily accessible phrasing. But we must understand these issues. One group values lower taxes and caters to the voters singularily with that appeal (and a msacot), the other group values education(and the children) and appeals to voters with that in mind. I'm sorry for the rant but I hope it helps.

-- Jim (pumpkin@ulster.raining), March 30, 2001.

One thing to mention is the mistaken idea that the Board of Ed trustees are beholden to the voters who elected them rather than to the education of our children. We let that go unchallenged last year becasue I think we genuinely didn't know, but I don't think we should let it go this year. Check out the NYSSBA links in our "Internet Resources" thread. I notice that on p.2 of this week's Woodstock Times there is no more mention of Tobe's "alleging" that in no place on the tape does Marino mention the name of the D'Errico child. It is now flat out: "He [D'Orazio] did not say the child's given name." This is an example of the frivolous lawsuits and harassment Board majority and their supporters have indulged in. Given how soon Hal will be retiring, it is absurd to try to force him out. Speaking of which, it is not too early to learn all the details of the process of finding his replacement, so that we are aware of the steps and how CARE will try to influence it.

One example of the climate of fear is what one administrator told me - - not only are teachers afraid to speak out, some of them have gotten hell from some parents for even clapping at certain times during Board meetings.

-- Carol (, March 30, 2001.

Valerie's right to ask the question of what's the sound bite. Here's one attempt. Afraid it's not short because there's so much evidence and information we have to remind people of. The evidence of bad board behavior and poor judgment is astounding. It's like a novel. And the lack of focus on education is the tragedy. Focus on education! Every decision made by the board should answer the question, "How does this help improve the level of learning in the district?" Instead of focussing on intimidation, investigation, inquisitions, and litigation, the board must return to a focus on education.

We were doing pretty well in focussing on education until about a year and a half, with the election of Joe Doan and the subsequent take over by the present board majority at last year's election. We had good collegial relations between the board, the administration, the staff and the community. Many people were volunteering, taking risks, trying things to improve what the system offered. The climate was hopeful and full of positive energy. Not perfect, but moving in the right direction. Now the feeling is very different. Morale is down, the way the community views the district is negative. Teachers feel the climate and are affected. The students are affected. What kind of a board majority do we have when Mr. Millman and Mr. Doan read prepared speeches that they didn't want to involve the young people in the bad board behavior. in order to delay the seating of a particular student on the board. How sad a statement is that? They admit they're dysfunctional in public and continue to exhibit the same behavior week after week. Have we had enough of this behavior? Want a chance for positive change? Elect Meg and Tom.

Our candidates are dedicated to focussing on education. We need to continue talk about the progress towards excellence in education that Meg and Tom have been a part of for many years. For ten years, Meg had been effective in opening the schools to parents, and as an educator she understands the quality of learning that is essential for children to thrive. She's been a supporter of continual staff development and the movement for inclusion of all children in the school community.

The climate in the district that Jim and Carol talk about is true. It's become routine for the board to treat administrators in an actively hostile way, with attempts to ambush administrators, intimidate teachers and board members, hide information from the public in excessive executive sessions and use of poor judgment in micro-managing the district's affairs. Their interference in the day to day running of several departments has clogged up the system. Their over-reaching requests for information, and presumption of authority and power have made it more difficult for administrators and faculty to do their jobs and to do them well. This kind of climate does not help improve the quality of the education in the district.

One example of a rush to judgment that has already cost money is the move to totally shut down Onteora's transportation operation. This is an inflexible approach and irresponsible budgeting. It provides the least flexibility for the system and will cost us the most. We've already reduced our drivers from about 30% of the transportation mix to 5%. Soon, if Joe Doan has his way, we will have no counterbalancing driver and equipment pool to help keep contract bus prices reasonable. This year's transportation costs have exceeded last year's. Instead of the $500,000 savings that were promised, costs are escalating. Late runs alone have gone up at least 544% this year. Route contracts are expected to rise at least 16% next school year, with the national average rising 20% per year for contract services.

Another example is the rush to alienate the owner of the modulars. As Marino D'Orazio predicted, the district has been sued. The board majority, at Joe Doan's insistence, continues to deny the owner his lease payments and refuses to renew the lease to keep the buildings on site. Instead, the district has been squatting in the buildings, while holding the payments due in escrow. The owner now wants interest on top of the payments owed and penalties of at least $20,000. Not to mention the legal fees. And if we lose four more classrooms we are left with a disasterous space problem at Phoenicia and Bennett. Poor judgment affecting the education of our children and the climate in the business community in and out of the district.

Pick your own story. Talk about the poor judgment in making the newspapers with the smallest circulation in the district the official district paper for public notices.

Talk about the action against the superintendent. Are they going to offer to buy him out? Pay his salary and pay another superintendent at the same time? Expensive! In one year the board has to start the process of finding a new superintendent as Hal reaches retirement. Instead they have chose the most contentious, costly way to alienate staff and try to "punish" Hal. This process of trying to fire Hal will cost probably $100,000 before it's over. That's about the amount spent in the mid-1970's when an attempt to remove Superintendent Marlow failed. That process is just starting. It will keep the district in turmoil for more months and take energy from the board and the community that we could use to Focus on Education. Who do you think will get the money spent for this costly litigation? Can you say, "David Shaw?"

Ask the questioner if they heard what happened to Kathy Aley and the inquisition she was treated to after 27 years of good service. This is the climate of suspicion that will continue to grow unless we take back the board with the election of thoughtful and kind people.


PS Most people won't wade through all of this in one biteÖbut if everyone takes a piece and writes about it, and tells that story to friends and the public (letters to the editor and public be heard) coming back to our theme of Focus on Education as the alternative to the bad behavior, we have a real campaign.

-- (, March 30, 2001.

At the SOS meeting today there was broad agreement on our campaign slogans and scope. 1. Focus on Education 2. Good schools build a strong community. 3. Support students and help them with needed academic services. 4. The Board of Education needs broad community support to return to an agenda for school improvement. 5. Get out the vote for Tom and Meg. Others will chime in with language corrections and additions so by this week's end we'll be ready for our firsat print and advertising pieces. Signs are coming, too.

It's not too early to get donations flowing to support the outreach we need to get people to the polls on election day.

-- (, March 31, 2001.

-- Anonymous, January 17, 2002

Moderation questions? read the FAQ