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Dan Hust | Democrat

Joan Glase took the oath of office after being appointed to the Sullivan West school board on Thursday in Lake Huntington. Joining her for the ceremony was her son and 12-year-old SW student, Gabriel Pinciotti.

SW: Prepare for layoffs, tax hikes

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — February 22, 2011 — “This is a tough budget season, and next year will be even tougher.”
That’s how Sullivan West Supt. Ken Hilton began Thursday’s budget workshop – a grim task for every district in the state.
Even SW, which is better off financially than other in-county districts, is facing six position eliminations plus an up-to-five percent tax hike.
Enrollment is expected to drop by 34 kids in the 2011-2012 school year, and if the governor’s budget passes as-is, state aid will be a million dollars less – on top of the million dollars in aid lost this year.
Plus, “we are not counting on the sale of those buildings,” Hilton said of the Delaware Valley and Narrowsburg campuses, which might not go to closing (if at all) until June – more than a month after state law requires districts to “set” their budgets.
“And all proceeds go into an escrow account which we draw on for 14 debt payments,” he explained of those sale funds.
However, the removal of those buildings from the district’s energy and maintenance tabs could help reduce taxes, so Hilton promised that if a closing can be reached sooner, “we’ll sharpen the pencil and work all night.”
Three of the six eliminations being contemplated would come from not filling positions held by retirees, said Hilton. The other three may be a combination of full and part-time teachers in the elementary and high schools.
Non-teaching staff layoffs are still being contemplated, he added, and will be revealed at the next board meeting, currently scheduled for March 3 at 7 p.m. in the high school library.
Save for electives, programs are not expected to be cut, unless more state aid is lost.
In other business
• Cochecton resident and SullivanArc public relations specialist Joan Glase was unanimously appointed to the board Thursday to replace the retired Richard Tegnander.
As such, Glase’s term will continue only through May, by which time she’ll have to decide whether or not to run for the elected seat.
• High School Principal Margie Tenbus was pleased to announce that the high school has been approved as an SAT/ACT Testing Center, meaning students won’t have to travel far to take the college-level aptitude exams.
• Retired SW Assistant Supt. Larry Lawrence, who never really left anyway, was hired as a consultant through the end of the calendar year for $40 per hour with no benefits.
He’ll assist on an as-needed basis with reviewing the district’s management system, and financial and budgetary issues.

SW opts to sell DV land

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — In a near-unanimous vote of a now-fully-reconstituted board, Sullivan West chose on Thursday to put out to bid the portion of the Delaware Valley campus that’s not already up for purchase by Ilwon Kang.
New board member Joan Glase joined her colleagues in voting for the sale, while Rose Crotty abstained, saying she had not yet read the bid documentation.
Approximately 58 vacant acres straddling the towns of Fremont and Delaware will be up for the highest bidder – save for the subsurface rights.
That includes natural gas and oil rights, though the district would only be able to access them via off-site drilling.
Supt. Ken Hilton said it’s a “beautiful, heavily wooded” property that fans out across a hill overlooking the Delaware River between Callicoon and Hankins.
Currently leased until September 30 by a hunting club, the property will be put up for sale because, said Hilton, Kang is now interested in acquiring it.
Kang could not be reached for comment on the matter.
The New York City developer has already made a successful bid to purchase the DV school itself, plus the former bus garage and the surrounding five acres.
He’s now deciding whether or not to proceed with the purchase of both the DV and Narrowsburg schools, the combined sales price of which is $3 million.
The 58 acres of land next to DV are up for a minimum of $400,000, but the bid also requires a 5 percent refundable downpayment and current audited financial statements demonstrating the potential purchaser’s ability to follow through.
Bids are due by March 28 at 4 p.m. at the district’s headquarters in Jeffersonville.
If more than one qualified bid is received, SW will hold an auction on April 4. Whomever does not get the bid will have their downpayment refunded.
The closing – barring any successful citizen petition to hold a public vote on it – will occur by late June or early July.

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