Will $12,500 work?

Tuxedo submits revised tuition rate offer in a bid to get reinstated as a choice option with Warwick and Chester

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

— Tuxedo School District officials have submitted a revised tuition rate offer of $12,500 to their Greenwood Lake counterparts, hoping that rate would be enough to allow George F. Baker High School to be put back into choice mix with Warwick and Chester.

At $12,500, the rate is identical to the one offered last spring when the Greenwood Lake Board of Education initially selected Tuxedo as the high school choice for a five-year time period.

“We looked very hard at the numbers of students we think we will have,” said Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo. “At the Greenwood Lake meeting, they talked about how one-third (of the students) would be leaving (to go to either Warwick or Chester). “

For Tuxedo, that currently means cutting approximately $1.8 million out of its budget ($16.5 million), based on the loss of those students. For the small Tuxedo district, Lomascolo said those cuts are huge.

“The cuts that we’re looking at are based on that ($12,500),” she said. “We really won’t know the number (the actual dollar amount of cuts) until December. We’re basing it on what we think we’ve heard (that one-third would go elsewhere) and what we think might be true.

“In our review of our program, if we can come close to that number, then we feel comfortable with that number,” she added. “It was different back then (in the spring). Then, we knew how many students and we could say confidently what it would do to our budget. This time around we have an idea of what we would look to cut, but we couldn’t finalize anything until we know the (numbers of) students. I hope it’s not a third, but we have to plan for what I think might happen.”

Class size will be affected

Lomascolo said cuts would first begin by looking at administration, staff and support staff before the district cuts its program.
“ I can’t definitively say where we would cut, but with a one-third less students, we’d looking at less sections, which means less teachers,” she said “We are looking at class sizes and raising class sizes. We are planning on cutting some electives and rotating others, like AP courses, to run at alternate years.”
Lomascolo remained committed to doing minimal harm to Baker’s curriculum.
“The program will look different, but we’re trying to keep what I think both communities want in our program,” she added. “Obviously, we’re known for small class sizes and they won’t be that small.”
Lomascolo hoped the number would be good enough to be accepted by Greenwood Lake, particularly since the board accepted that rate last spring.
“I would hope that if it were acceptable at that time, it would be acceptable as a choice option,” Lomascolo said. “This is it; we said it was ‘our final.’ This is really it because the kids need to look at the programs and make their selections.”
Lomascolo stressed that while that rate would require the district to be over the two percent cap, the district is continuing to look at all ways to keep costs in line.

$12,500 vs. $10,500

“I want to make sure my community knows that every time we drop tuition we’re not looking to raise taxes,” she said. “The tax increases we will have are what we think we know our community will agree with and we’re staying with that same tax increase. We are conscious of our community and the Greenwood Lake community. We are over the two percent cap, we’ve always been.”
But Greenwood Lake School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Brockel was noncommittal as to if Tuxedo’s revised rate would get Baker back into the choice option plan.
“I don’t know that the board has changed its mind,” he said. “$10,500 was the number we were seeking. $12,500, I don’t know if that number will fly. That’s the same number the board rejected with the proposal for five years.”
Brockel said he felt the board’s rescinding its choice of Baker as the solo school of choice last spring was based on the combination of the rate and the community’s insistence on choice.
“Many people in the community said $12,500 was too high,” said Brockel “And probably the second reason was that we said choice might be a good choice for the community. Those points made it seem appropriate that the board rescind its vote. It’s slightly different now. It’s a 22 month contract but it was the same number that was rejected. It’s really hard to speculate on what we’re doing (at the moment).”

Oct. 9 business meeting

The Greenwood Lake board will hold a special business meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Greenwood Lake Elementary School for the sole purpose of approving and ratifying the contracts with Warwick and Chester.
Brockel added he would not be surprised if the public asked the board to comment on the Tuxedo rate proposal.
“The discussion may come up, the topic may be discussed by the board that night,” he acknowledged. “People are showing up at meetings anticipating that things will be discussed about Tuxedo. The next step is if the board decides to move forward and include Tuxedo, we would probably read in a resolution, but I’m not sure, as Tuxedo is nowhere in the agenda. But people could ask us in the public comment part of the meeting, ‘Have you gotten the latest offer and what are you doing about it?’ It could come up at any place.”

Oct. 17 BOE meeting

The Greenwood Lake board next meets for its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the elementary school.
Lomascolo hoped pro-Baker supporters would continue to voice their support.
“The Greenwood Lake and Tuxedo communities, the effort they’re making to get us ‘on choice’ is unbelievable and I can’t praise them enough for the level of support they are showing us,” she said. “I really think this is the last chance to voice their opinions if they want Tuxedo in the mix. I think they’re doing an amazing job, but this is really it. The kids have to make their choices of schools.”
Brockel supported the need of students to finally select their high schools.
“It’s got to end,” he said. “It’s not fair to the kids who have to make a choice. It has to be ended at some point, to either move forward with Tuxedo or not. Time is running out for parents to be making an appropriate choice.”

By Nancy Kriz

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