'We are George F. Baker strong'

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We have lived in the Tuxedo School District for over 19 years and raised our children in this school. We have seen the district struggle and make difficult decisions through the years.

The last four years have been the most challenging, separating from Greenwood Lake and living with the uncertainty. My family has always been pro-Tuxedo school. We believe in the small school model and all the benefits that the nurturing environment can provide in developing strong educated young adults. We also believe that a child should be in the best education environment that they thrive in and that it is individual to each child.

If it is staying in TUFSD great and if it is a private school, that's great, too. That is a family's choice.

Our school is part of the community and the community should come together to do what is best for future generations of this town. It is the center of this community and a vital part of the financial stability and promise for growth.

The Tuxedo Town board should be focused on the needs of the town, partnering with the school to assist enrollment, building community relations, and fostering positive growth.

There is a small group of community members speaking out against GFB. It is not the majority.

You can not be pro-town and anti-school. It is a contradiction in itself, stunts growth and is purely divisive.

I do not agree with closing the school to meet a personal agenda or the ideal picture of what you feel is the best high school environment.

This school may not be ideal for all and that is where families have choices. Choices to move to other districts or to go to private schools. Choose what is best for your own child, focus on their education and the school that they attend, not ours.

We moved to this town knowing that it was a small district and so did everyone else. We had the town promise of a large development that would increase the population and bring a beautiful new high school.

It has been 25 years and unfortunately we are still waiting for that development, it has not happened. It has been a natural attrition that some students go to private schools in this area. We are fortunate to be in a geographic area that broadens our choices.

Tuxedo has never had a football team or ice hockey team or swim team. The teams we do have are inclusive, competitive and strong. We are also combining with surrounding districts to be part of sports teams that we do not offer. The elite athletes are making the large school teams.

Most kids are sitting on the sidelines or being cut and not making the teams at all.

The financial cost per student has been highlighted in this debate. It’s simple math, increase enrollment and the costs per student will decrease. Closing and going to another school district does not alleviate the financial commitment mandated by NY State. We will still pay school taxes, the costs are all relative. If this school should go to another district, the tax percentage will increase, we will loose a voice in the district and also be faced with the reality that the school will not likely reopen. Ask our neighbors in Northern Tuxedo, in Greenwood Lake and in Sloatsburg.

Our children in Tuxedo can be in the AP honors program, STEM program, sing in chorus, play a violin in the orchestra, be in the school play and be part of a winning Section 9 sports team all at the same time or be part of any variation of what they want to do. It is their choice. No one tells them that they are not good enough or that the club is full. Their teachers know their names and take a vested interest in their success. It's a small school with a big heart. Ask our students.

We truly feel that our BOE, administration, teachers, aides, coaches, bus drivers and all of our staff have risen to the occasion to continue making our high school the best experience that it can be for our children. It has been proven.

Our academic program is still strong, the music program has expanded and we are competing in sports at the Section and State levels. Our students are still getting into great Colleges. In keeping with GFB's long proud tradition, since 2016, we are still graduating kids going on to colleges like Boston College, Cornell, NYU, RPI, RIT, Binghamton, Columbia, Stony Brook, Sacred Heart, Plymouth State University, University of Rhode Island, Manhattan College and Colgate, to name just a small few.

It's about the quality, not quantity, at George F. Baker that has been the foundation that shaped our students into the successful adults they are today. Ask our many proud alumni.

The issue is not open or close anymore. We have proven sustainability. The issue is increasing enrollment and together figuring out what is best for our town and school district.

We miss our GWL families and students. We encourage them to consider coming back and giving their students GFB as a choice. We would also welcome our Tuxedo kids from the north and all Tuition students that want to be part of this special place. We have the best of the best administration, teachers and staff. They are all in! They care for our student’s futures and genuinely care about making this school the best it can be. All have put in countless hours to represent our town, do what is best for our children and our community. We choose this school and so do many others. Our community will continue to rally around our school.

We are George F. Baker strong.

Theresa Ruscillo

Proud parent of GFB students

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