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Catskill school board won't publicly respond to questions

Jul 07, 2023 1:03 pm

Nancy Kern reports in Columbia-Greene Media that Catskill school board member Ryan Osswald said recently that board members are not allowed to speak to anyone, including the press, regarding board business. The New York state School Boards Association recommends school boards not reply to public comments, but acknowledges that replying is allowed. At a Catskill school board meeting on July 5 Second-grade teacher and Catskill parent April Ormerod said, “I regularly attend these board meetings, and yet so many things still come as a surprise to me....I learned recently that we’ve lost our special education director. This is the 11th director we’ve dealt with as parents of a child in this school district. Our daughter is only entering ninth grade. It’s concerning, and we have to ask why. There’s never any ability for discourse. How can I, how can the community, become part of the discussion? How can the board represent our students, our families and community members when there doesn’t seem to be a chance for that? I’d like the Board to consider how to begin to allow the community to be heard. How can the taxpayers and the parents and employees communicate with the board? Often, I’ve heard members say that they wish they knew or how they can find out, and my question is how can we open that up? How can we engage the community so that you have a picture from the staff, the parents and the community about the concerns going on?” The Greenville school board, by contrast, recently had a parent oppose a library book, and the board held a moderated session of open discussion groups where parents could openly voice their concerns through dialogue. So, locally, it is possible for school board's to respond to the concerns of the community. Greenville School Board President Tracy Young said, “We were happy to host the discussion groups. They were very well-attended. The people shared from their hearts very respectfully and allowed the board to view things from many perspectives. All of the information was captured, and we had a mechanism that allowed us to capture feelings and sentiments that maybe weren’t addressed by the specific questions that were on people’s minds.” Read more about this story at HudsonValley360.com

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