Sullivan County Democrat
Callicoon, New York
April 10, 2012 Issue
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Dan Hust | Democrat

Sullivan West seniors Sam Smith and Kristina Sumfleth took the oath of office at the recent board meeting, as they are SW’s newest student school board members. They were warmly welcomed by a board that has allowed students to have a seat at the table for the past three years.

Sullivan West talks of fields, pre-K and late bills

By Dan Hust
LAKE HUNTINGTON — Ultimately acknowledging a November vote was impossible, Sullivan West’s board agreed last week to look into holding another referendum on the high school’s unfinished athletic fields sometime next year.
They’ll tentatively meet on Tuesday, October 18 at 7 p.m. at the high school in Lake Huntington to discuss the next steps. (Two earlier workshops were cancelled – one due to Hurricane Irene, one due to a scheduling conflict.)
In the meantime, board members gave Superintendent Ken Hilton questions they’ll ask at that meeting, including ones about a plan to include three tennis courts and possibly field a tennis team.
No pre-K busing
District parent Lee Ann Hubbert attended the gathering to push for restarting pre-K busing but was told it’s illegal in SW.
Because the district doesn’t have universal pre-K, said Hilton. Instead, SW provides a full-time pre-K teacher and aide just for 15 of its neediest four-year-olds.
He agreed with Hubbert that the prohibition makes little sense, especially since the children’s older brothers and sisters already get picked up by the same buses.
But he appealed all the way to the state education commissioner and was told that if something happened to a child being illegally bused by SW, “we would be criminally and civilly liable.”
Hubbert faulted Hilton for only notifying parents of the situation three weeks prior to the start of school, but he said he was trying all channels before admitting defeat.
In the meantime, both Hubbert and Hilton have contacted Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and NYS Senator John Bonacic to change the law.
Good and bad news
Elsewhere in the meeting, Hilton was pleased to note that SW’s average SAT scores went up even while the nation’s went down.
However, Advanced Placement enrollment is down by half at SW, with officials being told kids deem the work “too hard.”
Additionally, the entire general student population has dropped – again.
Hilton said last October SW had 1,281 students. This year it has 1,213, a five percent loss.
“And we’re still declining,” he remarked. “The whole county is.”
A great job
Hilton praised Sullivan County Paving – which employs several SW grads – for the work it did on the high school’s drainage and parking lots.
“We could not be more pleased with the quality of that work,” he said. “It’s exceptional!”
Board member Noel van Swol noted it was done just in time, too, having been completed before Hurricane Irene’s deluge – which the drainage system handled without issue.
You still gotta pay
An apparent postal system error meant many of the Town of Tusten’s 1,685 taxpayers did not get their school tax bills in the past few weeks.
Assistant Supt. Lorraine Poston wasn’t sure what happened, but she told board members the deadlines won’t change.
“The tax bills are a courtesy,” she pointed out of the law – meaning that even though some property owners may not get their bills until this week, the September 30 no-penalty deadline still applies.
Board member Angela Daley wondered what she should tell unhappy constituents.
“Call Governor Cuomo,” Hilton drily replied.

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