Saugerties School Board president fires back at critics

george heidcamp faceBoard of Education President George Heidcamp responded to criticisms he and his fellow board members have received in recent weeks during the board’s May meeting.

Heidcamp first took issue with the accusation that he had silenced or shut down parents who had come before the board to speak. He referred to the district policy on public comment, which includes a limit of three minutes for each comment, and added that if anyone needed extra time, the board always agreed to allow them additional minutes. He said the only time anyone was gaveled and asked to stop speaking was if they were out of order, such as making inflammatory comments about a member of the staff. This too, Heidcamp said, was district policy, and it was his job to enforce it.

Heidcamp went on to argue that, even when board members don’t comment on the topics brought before them during the public comment period, it doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. He said when an issue regarding the safety of children is brought before them, the board acts swiftly. He cited as an example the issue of security during school elections. After hearing parent concerns, the board held a public forum and eventually made election day a superintendent’s conference day so students would not be present.


He also took aim at the claim that the board was all of the same mindset, “except two.” Instead, he pointed to the record of votes the sitting board has taken. Out of 177 motions, Heidcamp said 88 percent of them had been unanimous. He called that “a pretty good record.”

Heidcamp went on to praise the board for the positive actions they had made, including working with the unions to take the district from a $1.6 million deficit to a surplus, without cutting student programs.

He deemed the criticisms “political rhetoric,” and said that no matter who was elected to the board in the May 19 election, he would still be sitting on the board next year.