Incumbents David Dukler and Edgar Rodriguez -- both of whom are up for re-election this year -- said they’re unsure if they’ll even run for re-election. In the most extreme scenario, that would mean that two new faces could find their way onto the board.
The lead-up to the controversial middle school election seems to have had a profound impact on both men. Rodriguez, who was the only trustee not to support the $49.78 million renovation project, had repeatedly said he felt ganged up on by the other six board members.
“At this time, I’m not sure,” he said about a potential run. Rodriguez said he would weigh his options and decide if he’ll run by next week.
School board President Dukler put it this way. “I haven’t decided yet.”
Behind the scenes, there had been a rumor that Dukler would not be running for re-election after the trying ordeal of watching the middle school vote go down in flames 2561-983.
The campaigns for and against the middle school renovation got nasty in the days closest to the early February election, and certain members of each camp made questionable decisions to further their chosen cause.
While he voted for the $50 million renovation plan, Dukler had been a voice of reason, calling for the reconciliation of the divided community and urging people to keep a long view and remember the days after the vote.
As of last week, New Paltz Central School District had not received any signature packets from any candidates wanting to get on the ballot. The deadline is April 19.
However, Unite Our District -- the grassroots group opposed to the renovation -- recently sent out an e-mail soliciting candidates to run for the school board.
Right now, Superintendent Maria Rice has proposed a $49 million budget supported by the teachers union and with fewer cuts than in her first draft.
According to New Paltz United Teachers President Rachel Busher, a renewed budgetary dedication to smaller class sizes was enough for the union to back the budget.
“Clearly the district is approaching this from a standpoint based on best practices for student learning. Early intervention, smaller class size in the elementary schools and foreign language at an early age have been proven to be keys to success,” the union president wrote in an e-mail to this paper. “Investing at the early stages is not much different than making sure you build your house with the proper foundation.”
Rice’s tentative budget cuts 12 “full-time equivalent” jobs -- but that actually amounts to about 8-9 people losing their jobs. Busher said she wasn’t happy about the cuts, but they seemed like a necessary evil.
“I wish all jobs could be saved. I think we’re talking about damage control here. The ultimate goal is to provide the education students need,” she wrote. “The cuts that are proposed will impact students … The proposed 8 or 9 positions being cut are of value to student program and we hate to see these positions cut as well.”
School board members are tasked with passing a budget vote in an untenable economic climate -- and a climate in which more than 2,500 told them not to spend more money.
However, the board is scheduled to make its budget vote this month. The Board of Education will make conduct a public hearing on the budget on May 5.
Members of the public will get a chance to vote on both candidates and the budget during the election on May 18.
The two people elected to the school board will serve three-year terms lasting until 2013.
Anyone interested in running for the school board should get in contact with District Clerk Bev Sickler at 256-4020.
Highland’s School Board elections
Three seats are up for grabs in this year’s Highland School Board elections, as the terms of board members Scott Greenland, Darlene Plavchak and Sue Gilmore expire this summer.
Board members are typically elected to three-year positions, as is the case with Greenland.
Plavchak was elected to fill a one-year term in 2009.
Gilmore was appointed by the board in February to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of former president Donna Halstead.
Petitions for candidates are due to the District Office (320 Pancake Hollow Road) at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 19.
Highland’s school board candidate and 2010-2011 budget vote will be held on Tuesday, May 18.
-- Mike Townshend
additional reporting by Megan Labrise
Unite Our District seeks school board candidates
Unite Our District is seeking qualified effective candidates interested in running for the New Paltz School Board. Candidates must be qualified voters in the district (at least 18 years old and citizens of the United States) and be residents of the New Paltz School District continuously for one year. Individuals interested in running should send a letter of intent and their resumé to UOD2010@aol.com or contact Fawn Tantillo at 914-466-0437.