Yes, it is okay to say "No" to your child, as the flyer I recently saw that was distributed by the "Unite Our District" group states. But when we say "no" what message are we also sending? Four years ago my youngest son graduated from the New Paltz Middle School. Every visit I commented on what wonderful teachers worked there and how awful the building was. Ask any New Paltz Middle School graduate and they will comment that it is "a dump." It always bothered me that we sent our kids to a place all day for three years they thought was a "dump." I find it hard to believe that anyone who has walked those halls has not noticed the deterioration and dilapidation of the buildings. I find it very disheartening that many of my friends and neighbors have sided with the landlords and realtors who are fighting against this renovation project, yet have walked those hallways as well. I try not to think that many of these families no longer have a need for the middle school. I have watched the videos. I've read the signs and the flyers. I've visited the web sites. I've examined the proposal. I've watch the public meetings and I have tried to follow this since the original vote was taken to renovate the old building. I was proud that my community was addressing what I saw as a long overdue educational need. Lately, I have had a change in heart. The discourse and politics are truly disturbing. Never have I thought the Board of Education wasn't being up front and fair with the community. Nowhere can I find reason to suspect anything but responsibility and thoroughness on their efforts. Certainly I see no excuse for the rude and accusatory personal statements directed at members of the board at these meetings and in the press, and to be perfectly honest, I am ashamed by them. I am totally confounded by a group that doesn't want to spend money to fix a school and is willing to spend a lot of money on full page ads and billboards to tell me. I become even more suspicious to find their signs mostly on rental properties. I find it ironic that they call their group "Unite Our District."
I once heard a wise woman say that when you visit a community, you can learn all you need to know by visiting the schools.
I understand and appreciate the financial argument of an additional tax burden on an already financially stressed community. In my family we prioritize, make choices and often sacrifice for what is necessary and most important. I will vote "yes" on the bond issue to renovate the middle school because it is necessary and our kids are important, and although it is okay to say no to them, sometimes saying yes is the right thing to do.
Kevin Patrick Hodgkiss