School board: stop the personal attacks
In his clearest statement to date, Marlboro Superintendent Ray Castellani said last week that he is not leaving his position as school superintendent.
He pointed out that across New York State there is a need for superintendents and that during the past four years he has often been contacted by other districts with job offers, especially from Westchester and Rockland counties.
“I love this community and I want to make sure there are no rats jumping from ships here,” he said. “This is where I was brought up. This is where my children go to school and I love it. My commitment is to my children, your children and to the community.”
Before opening the school board meeting for public input, school board President Stephen Jennison read a letter from the trustees of the Board of Education and the Marlboro Central School District administrative team. He began, saying the school board considers itself “very fortunate and extremely proud” to work with the school staff, the students and the community “in providing a good education for our children.”
Jennison said that what has transpired in the past few months concerning Dynegy “is something no one could plan for, no matter how much notice was given. The numbers are just too big.”
Jennison said the school board has heard “a lot of chatter” about what should have been done in the past five to 20 years “but that is neither here nor there.”
“We need to concentrate what is happening in our community right now in our district,” he said, adding that the board is acutely aware of the present level of frustration within the taxpaying community.
“We appreciate all of the input we’re receiving from the community,” he said. “If you don’t agree with the way it’s going, fine, sound off about the process. Voice your concerns [and] come to the meetings here. Ask about the law and the processes we are forced to manage around.”
Jennison urged the public to cease all personal attacks.
“We are a small community where everyone knows everyone,” he said. “These attacks we have seen on Facebook and hear about through typical Marlborough gossip do nothing, do nothing but divide and build an even bigger rift that is uncalled for. This is not helping any situation. These attacks have the potential of starting an us-versus-them mentality, which creates a great deal of animosity between staff, administration and the community. Who suffers in the long run; the students we’re trying to educate.”
Jennison said it is important to look back at what was done by previous school boards, administrations and bargaining units in the hope of learning from past decisions “good or bad.” But he emphasized that present school board decisions “are made through thoughtful discussion, good intentions and what we consider fair solutions made at the time.”
Jennison stated that this school board has kept taxes “reasonable,” returned nearly $2 million to the community, and improved the facilities and infrastructure while providing a good education to students. He urged residents to offer realistic solutions to the board to help the district move forward; petition the NYS Education Department as well as local, state and federal elected officials as well as Gov. Cuomo “to help enact changes to the way taxes are calculated and how municipalities are granted aid.”
Jennison said school boards have rules, regulations and mandates, both funded and unfunded, that place “huge burdens” on communities across New York state.
Jennison concluded his statement, saying “The change we really need has to be made in Albany.”
By MARK REYNOLDS