Sullivan County Democrat
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Delaware Valley campus of Sullivan West

One Scenario Has DV Campus Re-opening

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — February 13, 2007 — The Sullivan West board’s first major discussion of next year’s budget plans will be this Thursday, and Delaware Valley’s reopening will be part of it.
The Callicoon campus and its sister elementary school in Narrowsburg were closed by the board in 2005 for reasons of economy and efficiency.
But that 5-4 vote also split the community, especially those in the areas served by the two closed campuses.
Now the board is preparing to officially discuss – in detail – DV’s reopening.
Narrowsburg isn’t on the agenda, because Superintendent Alan Derry said all he was told to do by the board was offer two budget scenarios: one maintaining the status quo (the now-open campuses in Lake Huntington and Jeffersonville), and one reopening DV as an elementary school.
Using figures provided to board members just this past Friday, Derry estimated it would cost about $1.6 million more in 2007-2008 to add SW’s third open campus.
That would include 5-7 additional teachers, a principal, a clerk, a nurse, cafeteria workers and custodians, he explained, along with increased transportation and insurance costs.
The building has been minimally maintained for the past two years, with repair work done periodically, so it does stand ready for reopening.
“But the one question that hasn’t been asked yet,” said Derry, “is what are the advantages of reopening DV, educationally speaking?”
“My question would be: what was the educational value of closing it?” responded Board President Arthur Norden when told of Derry’s remark.
Norden, who voted against DV’s closure in 2005, is prepared to argue that point with Derry and anyone else, pointing out that financial – not educational – issues led to the consideration to close DV.
Dubious of the superintendent’s figures and motivations in this effort, Norden is of the mind that there’s a large K-6 enrollment within the former DV district’s boundaries that would justify the reopening of the campus.
“So now we want to see if the financial climate is conducive to opening it again,” he explained.
And that will be a main topic of Thursday’s meeting in the high school library in Lake Huntington, scheduled for 7 p.m. The public is welcome.
Will there be talk of other closure/reopening scenarios?
While Derry hopes board members might “think out of the box” regarding creative uses of Narrowsburg and DV, Norden said discussions will not include any other alternatives.
“We don’t have anything close to the information we need to go farther,” he remarked.
But he didn’t rule out a larger scope of alternatives this time next year…

Camp Eyes Use of DV for Summer

By Dan Hust

CALLICOON — While the Sullivan West school board will discuss this Thursday the feasibility of reopening the Delaware Valley campus, it will also be awaiting a proposal by the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts Summer Camp.
SW Superintendent Alan Derry and Camp Director Isaac Baumfeld confirmed that grantwriter Larry Siegel was touring the Callicoon facility yesterday in preparation for several grant applications regarding use of the now-closed campus.
Derry wasn’t sure what the Hancock-based performing arts camp has in mind, but Baumfeld said owner Ron Schaefer and crew have quite a few ideas.
“The camp would like to develop an arts center,” Baumfeld explained yesterday.
Summer campers might use the DV facility for classes in music, theatre and the arts, and an afterschool, “BOCES-type” program could be offered to area schoolchildren the rest of the year, he remarked.
Baumfeld said there’s even consideration of a two-year community college focusing on the performing arts.
“It’s still up in the air,” he cautioned. “We’re still brainstorming.”
And while the camp has long offered large scholarships and a prestigious summer program to both locals and young people nationwide, Baumfeld indicated grants would have to be forthcoming to further French Woods’ DV-related ideas.
Still, he said, “it would be a shame to see that facility turned into office buildings.”
SW Board President Arthur Norden welcomed the news.
“I’ve not had any discussions with them,” he related, “but if there’s an opportunity for them to use that building… I’m all for exploring it.”
It is approximately 12 miles from the French Woods camp to the DV campus.

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