Tuxedo continues path to high school conversion charter school


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— The Tuxedo School Board has unanimously approved the application to change George F. Baker High School into a conversion charter school.

The 6-0 vote took place during a special board meeting on Sept. 4.

The plan continues with having this 2014-15 school year be a planning year, with the new school officially opening for the 2015-16 year.

"We're so excited, we knew they would approve the 'right' application," said Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo. "If go back to when we first brought in a consultant, well over two years ago, to figure out the future of George F. Baker, the shaping the future of our high school, this has been two years in the making. This is a major milestone to have an approved application go to the State Education Department."

The next steps, she said, are for the board and the charter school's lead applicants to agree upon a charter and once that happens, the paperwork goes to the State Education Department.

During the summer, eight people representing the education, STEM and charter school industries reviewed the preliminary application. They asked for some modifications to be made before it went before the Tuxedo board.

The Greenwood Lake question

Despite the Greenwood Lake School District's recent announcement that it would not support the Tuxedo application because of the tuition that it would have to pay (rates are set by the State Education Department), Lomascolo remains optimistic the Greenwood Lake board will keep an open mind.

"To the board, I would hope and ask them again to paint the whole financial picture, for not just the first year, but years out," she said.

Lomascolo is confident a very significant portion of the Greenwood Lake community is supportive of the conversion charter school idea and wants to see Greenwood Lake high schoolers attend.

"To the Greenwood Lake community, I want them to know they need to know what the tuition is and what the money is that would come in from the state," she added.

Tuxedo has committed to providing seats to all Greenwood Lake residents who want to attend. Students in other districts would be selected by lottery.

That lottery process would be open to Greenwood Lake students if a contract is not place between Tuxedo and Greenwood Lake.

For over 30 years, Greenwood Lake students attended the Tuxedo high school because New York State will not approve the building of a high school in Greenwood Lake due to its size.

Over recent years, the boards of both districts engaged in sometimes contentious contract negotiations though that ultimately resulted in a contact between both districts.

Choice

This last time around, however, after lengthy and touchy discussions - fueled by public outcry - a three choice option of Tuxedo, Warwick and Chester schools was approved by the Greenwood Lake board.

The large majority of students, however, chose to attend Tuxedo.

- Nancy Kriz

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