Letters (4/18-4/25)

mailA more thoughtful response to St. Mary closing

“Elementary schools can feel like an extended family, and the pain of separation is real.” In a single sentence about the closing of St. Mary of the Snow, your author clearly articulated the situation faced by thousands of school children, parents, teachers and neighborhoods throughout Ulster County. Sadly, the story you published served to focus on the pain and place blame where it doesn’t belong. It allowed two parents to vent their frustrations by painting a dark picture of the future. In so doing, you have unfairly represented other schools and communities and overdramatized a situation that needs a calm, thoughtful response. Such stories make the pain worse and delay the healing that must follow.

The story noted that officials from St. Joseph’s and St. Mary of the Snow declined to comment. Officials of Kingston Catholic School were not invited to comment. Here is what we would have pointed out had we been asked:

1. Dropping population throughout Ulster County coupled with a global economic crisis has forced communities and administrators of all schools — both public and private — to reconsider the way they organize and operate. The Onteora and Kingston school districts have had widely publicized debate over school reconfigurations for the better part of five years now. Every community struggles to meet the needs of its students within the confines of available budgets and resources. Catholic schools face the same challenges. No one is immune and change is inevitable.

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2. Parents of Catholic school children are uncertain about where their kids will sit next year because the Archdiocese of New York wanted to give the communities and opportunity to shape the changes that must take place. Representatives of all three Catholic schools and their communities are on the local committee mentioned in your story. They are working diligently to develop recommendations. While the process does take time, it will also deliver the best possible outcome for our children.

3. Once final decisions are made by Archdiocesan administrators, then all parents will make appropriate choices for their children. Ulster County parents of all faiths will have the opportunity to choose a public, private school or Catholic school. And as they have for well over 100 years, our Catholic school options will feature values-based, achievement-oriented education that prepares young people for a future of academic success and community service.

We’ve all been through transitions like this in the past and we know that our children will adjust well. It’s what kids do. Every year they leave behind a familiar classroom and teacher and move upward and onward to meet new teachers and take on increased challenges. It’s part of growing up.

Parents can help this process along by investigating all options. Visit the schools where you child might go. Meet the teachers. Ask about the curriculum. Check out the after-school options, the academic records, the things that are important to you. Speak with other parents who have children in the school.

We invite parents of all children to visit Kingston Catholic School to learn more about the benefits of a Catholic school education. Please call 331-9318 and make an appointment at your convenience for a tour. Or join us for an open house on Thursday, April 18 and 25 from 5-7:30 p.m.; or Saturday, April 20 and 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, check out our website at KingstonCatholicSchool.com or find us on facebook.

Marie A. DiIulio
Director of Development, Kingston Catholic School

 

Above and beyond

Saugerties is lucky to have a retiree residence right on Main St., the building is a convenient and safe environment for the elderly. John and Beverly Harris do a great job of running this 60-plus unit building, in addition, they genuinely care for the residents in their charge.

Gloria Cappabianca, who recently passed away, lived there for 20 years. She was happy and found it a convenient place to get around. There was comfort in the companionship with her friends

It was John and Beverly who alerted me to a sudden change in her health. This is more than being apartment managers, this is a sincere concern for your fellow man.

My family would like to thank John and Beverly and all Gloria’s friends and neighbors who were a help and comfort to her during her residence there. She will be missed.

Barbara Buono
Saugerties

 

The facts about the police budget

I get tired of responding to Joe Roberti’s repetitive, inaccurate ramblings, but I believe that the public deserves to know the facts. Joe continues to discredit the police department and the merger in nearly every letter he writes, so I would like to set the record straight about budget over runs in 2012. These facts are public record and provided by the chief of police, Joseph Sinagra.

The overrun costs are as follows:

overtime $60,217.54 – Overtime overages were a result of shift coverage and court time, also $20,000 in covering special events and not being reimbursed.

part-time wages $14,244.59 – We had two part-time officers working full-time slots until they could be filled. Between both employees a total of $64,732.26 was expended. Further over $12,000 was spent on school crossing guards which was never in the budget, yet they were paid out of the police part-time line.

vehicle repairs $21,681.93 – We have an aging fleet with a number of our police vehicles having over 100,000 miles on them.

body armor $7,653.45 – This line item was not funded, yet we had to purchase new vest by contract for those that had expired.

deputy chief position $9,415.31 – This position was not funded for 2012, the chief of police and the deputy chief’s position were coming out of one line which was only funded for one position.

vacation/holiday buy outs $10,093.36 – Officers have the right to buy out half of their holidays, yet there were no provisions in the budget to cover these expenses.

total = $123,306.18

These are overruns that no one had control over.

comparison analysis – Saugerties Police Department is a 23 full-time member force, with 4 full-time dispatchers and eight part-time officers, four part-time dispatchers, one civilian staff, serving a residential population of 20,000 people, in a 68 square-mile area.

Ulster Police Department is a 25-member force, with three full-time dispatchers, and nine part-time officers, nine part-time dispatchers, one civilian staff, serving a residential population of 12,544 people, in a 29.6 square-mile area.

Kingston Police Department is a 74-member force, with eight dispatchers, and five civilian staff, serving a residential population of 23,000 people, in a 7.4 square-mile area.

2012 budgets: Saugerties PD $1,916,400; Ulster PD $2,432,562.00; Kingston PD $9,766,828

cost per person per year in 2012 Saugerties: $94.82; Ulster: $193.93; Kingston: $424.65

chief’s salary in 2012; Saugerties: $ 75,000; Ulster: $88,427; Kingston: $101,357.

So Joe, before you shoot off your mouth, ask for the facts. Our police department is one of the best in the state and on the verge of becoming fully accredited for the first time in its history. This translates into much lower liability insurance rates, more police-related grant money for the department and ultimately less of an impact on our budget. When we hired Joe Sinagra as our police chief, the town of Saugerties hit a home run. He has done a fantastic job and given us a police department that we can be proud of. Our supervisor, Ms. Myers, wanted to fire one of our officers to save money and criticized the board for not going along with it. This would not be a smart move since it would create more overtime to cover shifts, possibly decrease coverage and ultimately cause additional budget overruns. And one last point, Greg Helsmoortel was our supervisor, I was proudly on the Town Board along with Fred Costello and Leeanne Thornton when this all started. Gosh, if I didn’t know any better it almost sounds like good management and smart decision making for the good of our community.

Bruce Leighton
Saugerties

 

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