It’s not over yet

Tuxedo to submit new tuition rate for high school students; next Greenwood Lake School Board meeting set for Oct. 17

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  • Eighty percent of the students who attend George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo are from Greenwood Lake.

— It’s not over. At least not just yet.

The issue of including George F. Baker High School in the mix of where to send Greenwood Lake students was expected to take another turn now that Tuxedo School District officials were planning to submit a revised tuition rate proposal to their Greenwood Lake counterparts by the end of this week.

That decision was based on the pleas of the packed room of emotional parents and students from both communities attending the Tuxedo School District Board of Education meeting on Sept. 13, where speakers begged the board to do whatever it had to do so that Baker would be reinstated as a high school choice option for Greenwood Lake students.

“We did go there and asked them to please work with the tuition rate and they told us it wouldn’t be the same program we’re fighting for,” said Greenwood Lake resident Carolyn McAteer, one of many parents involved in the group called Campaign to Remain. “I specifically said, ‘We have faith in your teachers. Do whatever you can do to stay in the mix for that 22 month period.’ We admitted we felt our board pulled the rug out from us.”

Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo said her board agreed to take a look at what it could do to make that happen, noting further cuts would make the school’s program significantly different than what it was now.

“Our board heard them and we are looking at the numbers and what we would have to do to get to a number that Greenwood Lake would accept,” Lomascolo said. “It’s a very difficult thing. Our program would not be the same. The community told us that they were okay with making changes to the program if it meant keeping Tuxedo in the mix of the three parent choice option.”

Consolidation of AP and electives

While Lomascolo declined to discuss the details of what cuts would need to be made to get to a number the Tuxedo board hoped its Greenwood Lake counterparts would accept, she said the district was doing all it could to make the proposal workable.
“We are looking at consolidating and at all areas outside of the academic program prior to touching course offerings, so that the program isn’t totally different, but operating differently,” she said. “We understand based on the number of student reductions there will be less sections and we’re looking creatively at our AP and elective programs.”
Lomascolo did say she would discuss them next week, after giving Greenwood Lake officials the courtesy of having the first review.
“It’s hard to know what the cuts would be until we get to December and we look at numbers of students,” Lomascolo added.
McAteer hoped Tuxedo’s expected new rate would be appealing enough to be accepted by the Greenwood Lake board.
“There were actually Greenwood Lake parents crying and pleading to them saying, ‘Please, you have to make the cuts so we can stay here,’” McAteer said. “It was a very, very emotional meeting.”
Pro-Tuxedo choice advocates know there’s only a minimal amount of time left before the two choice high school choice of Warwick and Chester is a true fait accompli. The Greenwood Lake board next meets on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and it’s expected that’s when the Tuxedo proposal would be publicly discussed.
Added to that is the need of Greenwood Lake incoming ninth-graders and families to make decisions on what school to attend, so officials can begin finalizing plans.
Yesterday, that preliminary process began when Chester School District officials came to the middle school to give eighth-graders a modified version of the program presented to parents last spring about the merits of its school.
Greenwood Lake officials said a similar program would also be held by Warwick School District officials. Greenwood Lake School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Brockel said Tuxedo would be invited to do its own version should it be put back into the choice mix.

Decision by December

Students will need to make a decision by December as to what their high school of choice will be.
“We told the (Tuxedo ) board that in two weeks, if you don’t come in with something good (for the Greenwood Lake board to accept), it (the Tuxedo choice option) could be done forever,” said McAteer. “I think they heard us but a lot of us who walked out where afraid they were not going to cut the program.”
She added: “To both boards, I would say it would be a shame to not have this school in the mix. We’re desperate to have them reach some tuition rate agreement. I hope that our board is receptive to sacrifices that Tuxedo will make in order to lower the rate. “
Lomascolo stressed Tuxedo’s program ultimately depends upon the numbers of students who choose Baker, should Greenwood Lake reinstate Baker as one of the available choices.
“We’re looking at what we would have to do to make that happen and we need Greenwood Lake to work with us,” said Lomascolo. “It’s not over yet.”
Brockel independently offered up his own comment, “It’s not over till it’s over,” when asked about the turn of events.
“I’m not surprised,” he said. “I think the students and parents currently attending Tuxedo’s Baker show a love of their school and that’s what you want from kids. They want to stay in it and have their brothers and sisters have the same opportunity.”
Brockel previously said Tuxedo officials needed to come close to the $10,500 tuition rate discussed at its Aug. 29 board meeting.
“That was the stance,” he added. “We’ll see what it is. We’d like to hear what they say.”

By Nancy Kriz

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