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Plans Change Yet Again
For SW High School

By Dan Hust
CALLICOON — July 17, 2001 – Unit ventilators rather than air-conditioning ducts in the classrooms. Flat roofs instead of sloped ones. Firewalls instead of a sprinkler system. No greenhouse or TV studio equipment.
These were the hard choices facing the Sullivan West school board Thursday night at their meeting at Delaware Valley in Callicoon, and they chose them all to bring the Lake Huntington high school project into line with its $28 million budget.
In fact, enough changes were made that the project is now about $400,000 under budget, according to Superintendent Michael Johndrow and officials from the school’s construction management firm, Turner, and architectural company, Hillier.
However, none of those decisions are set in stone, as the requests for bids will feature numerous items as “add/alternates” – in other words, projects that bidders can bid on if their bid on necessary items comes in low enough to keep the overall project well within budget.
Whether that will happen or not won’t be known for several more weeks, as the rebidding process has just begun. (The initial set of bids came in at more than $8 million over budget, forcing the board to go back to bid and to delay the construction of the school by as much as a year.)
However, board members did agree to award two bids that evening – based on the condition that all other bids are awarded during this rebidding process. One went to the Nickerson Corporation for $656,989 worth of casework and millwork, and the other was awarded to LeClair Communications for telecommunications and network cabling at a cost of $222,000.
New Management Position
At the behest of Business Manager Betsy McKean, the board agreed to create a Director of Buildings and Grounds on Thursday night.
According to McKean and Johndrow, the approximately $50,000-a-year position – which is just now being advertised – would consist of overseeing the custodial and maintenance staffs of the three (and one day, four) campuses that make up Sullivan West.
Currently, there are separate staffs for each school, but with the recent retirement of DV custodian Bob Head, the issue was put on the front-burner.
Renovations Not Yet Approved
In response to a resident’s question at the meeting, Johndrow informed all that the renovations planned for all three existing schools have yet to be approved by the state education department, which he said is swamped with work currently.
However, “we’re still on track to do renovations this [school] year,” he said, adding that the Narrowsburg portion of the renovations have already been seen and commented upon by state ed. officials, and a final approval is expected in as little as two weeks.
And how about the moving of 100 9th-12th grade Narrowsburg students to the J-Y campus this fall?
“That’s a done deal,” said Johndrow in a later interview.
The board was told that Narrowsburg parents and students will be offered an orientation session on August 28 in Jeff.
Johndrow also said the faculty, staff and board will soon be considering how to academically accommodate the DV students, who will not benefit from the more expanded facilities and course offerings available at J-Y during the first year the new high school was supposed to be operating. That may include considerations about sending staff to DV from J-Y – or sending students from DV to J-Y, akin to the Narrowsburg situation.
In Other News . . .
Assistant Superintendent David Rowley informed the board Thursday that the school will get $143,000 in textbook aid, which is approximately $40,000 more than what officials initially thought they could purchase.
Also, Business Manager McKean said she and Transportation Director Les Krum will be meeting before the next board meeting to discuss how to bus Narrowsburg’s 100 high-schoolers to Jeff beginning this September.

Democrat Loses 'Official
Newspaper' Status at SW

By Dan Hust
CALLICOON — July 17, 2001 – Thursday night’s Sullivan West reorganizational board meeting at the Delaware Valley campus in Callicoon featured an item that usually passes with no comment.
Among all the other things school boards must approve or reject during annual reorganizational meetings, boards must determine who the official newspaper(s) of the district will be. When a newspaper is granted such status, the school agrees to place legal notices and “Help Wanted” ads within that paper’s pages, along with announcements of general interest.
The Sullivan County Democrat has served as the official newspaper of the three former school districts of Sullivan West for decades.
However, on Thursday, the Sullivan West board voted 5-4 in favor of dropping the Democrat as its official newspaper and going instead with the River Reporter.
Both papers are headquartered in the school district (the twice-weekly Democrat in Callicoon and the weekly River Reporter in Narrowsburg), and both have received “official newspaper” status from the board during Sullivan West’s two years of existence.
Although certain board members declined to comment or could not be reached, the general consensus of the board as a whole was that the vote was in response to an editorial Democrat Publisher Emeritus Fred Stabbert, Jr. wrote back in June, asking board members to seriously consider the potential dangers in garbage and in the ground at the site of the new high school in Lake Huntington.
Two board members, Rick Lander and Angela Daley (who has since been replaced by Tim Lanese), took issue with the editorial in subsequent letters to the editor, calling the piece irresponsible and badly timed. (It appeared five days before the groundbreaking ceremony in Lake Huntington.)
Evidently, a majority of the board agreed. Voting no to naming the Democrat the school’s official newspaper were Lander, Vice-President Jeff Nober, Donna Sauer-Jones, K.C. Garn and Rich Sandler. Voting yes were President Carol Nearing, Jerry Triolo, Bill Erdmann and Lanese.
A subsequent vote to make the River Reporter the official paper was passed unanimously.
“I believe our vote was an appropriate one given the Sullivan County Democrat’s editorial posture,” said Garn in a later interview, adding that he questioned its contentions and timing.
“I don’t believe they researched it. I don’t feel he used factual content,” said Sandler, speaking of Stabbert. “When it’s printed as an editorial, it carries a lot of weight.”
“I believe in freedom of speech, and I didn’t think it was right to use the political seat we’re in for reprisals,” remarked Triolo, who said something similar in public at the board meeting. “The community uses the paper. . . . I’m sure they [board members] are reconsidering it [their decision] already.”
“It was the right way to vote,” said Lanese of his decision to retain the newspaper. “Everybody reads it [the Democrat], and that’s where we need to be.”
“We’ve used you [the Democrat] before. You’re part of the district,” added Erdmann. “I wasn’t happy with the editorial myself, but you’ve always been very fair with us . . . and all over.”
Nearing and Nober declined to comment. Sauer-Jones could not be reached for comment, and Lander declined when contacted by the Democrat, although he stated to a daily newspaper reporter on Thursday that the decision to publish the editorial was irresponsible.
Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III was surprised by the vote.
“School officials have and will always be given every opportunity to be heard in our newspaper,” he stated yesterday. “In fact, I had two face-to-face meetings before the vote to more clearly understand their side.
“I feel strongly that the board’s decision does a disservice to the taxpayers of the district and will disenfranchise them from many of the board’s actions,” he added. “To base such an important decision on only 281 words out of our 111-year history of serving the people of our area seems almost unbelievable.”

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