New Paltz Times: School Board election letters

THE CANDIDATES (clockwise from top-left): Joe Garcia, Megan Goodnow, Glenn LaPolt, Michael O’Donnell, Diana Armstead and Brian Cournoyer

Here are the letters relating to the May 15 school board election and budget vote from the last two issues of New Paltz Times.

May 3 issue

Armstead, Cournoyer and O’Donnell for BOE

I trust Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell to continue their track record of listening to the community, supporting the needs of ALL students and engaging in responsible and informed management of taxpayer dollars. Under their leadership, the district’s fund balance has been restored, and the district has been removed from the comptroller’s list of fiscally stressed schools, meaning the district can now entertain the idea of increasing extracurricular activities and staff. They worked to fight the misuse of data gleaned from high-stakes testing to hurt teachers and students. They have brought greater awareness to the ways in which high-stakes testing narrows the curriculum and exposed flawed NYS career and college readiness benchmarks that erroneously fail thousands of children and misallocate precious resources. Their work on the district’s Racial Equity Initiative demonstrates their commitment to listening to the community and rooting out institutional racism in our schools.

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Diana Armstead’s experience in law enforcement, her commitment to the emotional well-being of all students and to anti-bullying initiatives will be an important addition to the BOE. Diana will fight for developmentally appropriate policies and practices that are increasingly at risk. Her professional experience fighting the opioid crisis and educating young people about the dangers of drugs and addiction are unique and will be a critical addition to our district’s leadership.

Please join in voting for Brian Cournoyer, Michael O’Donnell and Diana Armstead on May 15.

Bianca Tanis

New Paltz

 

My vote will be cast for Meghan Goodnow

I’m writing in support of Meghan Goodnow as a candidate for the New Paltz School District Board of Education. I’ve had the privilege of working beside Meghan on the New Paltz Middle School PTA board for this school year. She is knowledgeable in the needs of our schools and a tireless advocate for our children. As current treasurer of the middle school PTA, she has created budgets and ensured that we abide by them. She exudes a “can-do” attitude and she does do it.

My vote will most certainly be cast for Meghan on May 15. I hope yours will as well.

Laurie Adourian

New Paltz

 

Vote for Goodnow, LaPolt and Garcia for New Paltz School Board

It is time for a change on the New Paltz School Board. In my opinion, the majority of our current School Board is not hearing the concerns of its constituents and we desperately need to have trustees who act as agents for the students in our schools. When faced with overwhelming dissent from students, teachers and parents who expressed concern over losing cross country, swim, and golf if the high school start time is changed, this board chose to move forward, despite our children already starting later than other districts. It is time for us to elect trustees who will act on behalf of ALL students: athletes, artists and scholars. Fortunately, we have three candidates who support listening to parents, staff and students.

I have been a teacher and mother for over 20 years. Therefore, my beliefs about education are focused through two lenses. Evaluating the candidates through these lenses, I believe that Glenn LaPolt, Joe Garcia and Meghan Goodnow are the best candidates to ensure that EVERY student in New Paltz has a voice. These candidates have expressed support for creating a wellness center that would compliment the district’s commitment to mental health through spaces for physical and mental health. Furthermore, they support the student and parent’s desire to keep the high school start time at 8 a.m. ( already one of the latest start times in the Hudson Valley).

Glenn LaPolt is an ideal candidate for New Paltz School Board. He has the unique qualification of being both raised and educated in the district. He even graduated from our hometown college. This gives him an understanding of the history of our district. Having children and his spouse in the district, Glenn understands the current state of the district and where we need to be in the future. Furthermore, as a teacher and a coach, Glenn has a true understanding of how academics, athletics and the arts work together to educate the whole child. He will truly be an advocate for ALL students in New Paltz.

Joe Garcia has been a member of the community for two decades. He brings an understanding of mental health issues that will help the district develop and grow programs that will assist our students in meeting the challenges of the world outside our idyllic community. He is a parent who understands the importance of raising well-rounded children. The Garcia family values the coexistence of academics, arts, and athletics. Joe will bring those values to the Board as he advocates for educating the whole child.

Meghan Goodnow and her family are well connected to the community. Through the family business, Meghan has many contacts that provide her with a unique vision into the community. She is bright and articulate. Anyone who knows Meghan knows that she is passionate not only about educating the whole child, but also educating every child. As a member of the Board of Education, she will work tirelessly to ensure that the entire community is heard and that ALL students are represented.

Everyone deserves a voice. These candidates will not only listen, they will advocate for ALL students in New Paltz. Please join me on May 15th. Vote for Goodnow, LaPolt, and Garcia for School Board.

Melanie Hoffmann

New Paltz

 

Michael O’Donnell for New Paltz BOE

I am writing in support of Michael O’Donnell for re-election to the New Paltz Central School District Board of Education. As a parent and taxpayer in the district, I am deeply grateful that so many individuals are committed to protecting and strengthening the democratic promise of public education. All of the candidates — Michael O’Donnell, Brian Cournoyer, Diana Francis Armstead, Glenn LaPolt, Meghan Goodnow and Joseph Garcia — deserve our collective thanks for their willingness to volunteer their time and energy.

My enthusiastic support for Michael is informed by working closely alongside him these past two years as a fellow trustee. Public education is fraught with a dizzying amount of regulations, laws, rules and policies. Adding to these complex mandates, the current Education Secretary continues to rescind key civil rights guidance, undermining protection and support for our most vulnerable students (https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/3878460/Betsy-DeVos-ED-Office-of-Civil-Rights-OCR.pdf). Now more than ever, the pressure is on advocates for public education at the local level to undertake increasing amounts of due diligence to provide a safe and enriching learning experience effectively for all children. We need BOE members who can process these changes with urgency and context, collaborating respectfully in decisions rooted in the district’s core intelligence. As board president, Michael has consistently done so, leading the New Paltz Central School District with intelligence, discipline and compassion.

Simply put, Michael does his homework. He comes to the board table prepared with relevant research paired with analytical skills sharpened from his professional career. To my mind, there is no one in the current field of candidates who comes close to demonstrating the ability to comb through and strengthen the district’s finances as Michael can and does. With a potential budget of $61.3M, the district needs Michael’s continuity and expertise to steward the district’s fiscal health.

As the district embarks on its first of many equity report cards, Michael approaches the incoming data with appropriate scrutiny. With respect to students who are most vulnerable to systemic marginalization, Michael understands what disenfranchisement means within a public policy and specifically, school context. Accordingly, he appreciates and urgently seeks to change how children and families bear the burden of institutional inequity. With the Racial Equity Initiative, the district has in Michael a trustee who listens, learns and acts with conviction. In this area, the district can ill-afford a reset with learning curves for new trustees, particularly in the continuing work of restoring trust with members of our community who have been historically underserved.

Michael’s professional temperament, respect for norms, exceptional analytic competence with complicated public policy, principled and collaborative leadership have served the children of this district admirably and with integrity.

I urge voters to join me in re-electing Michael O’Donnell to continue this important work.

This letter expresses my personal opinions and not that of the Board of Education.

Sophia Skiles

Gardiner

 

O’Donnell, Cournoyer and Armstead for BOE

I am supporting Michael O’Donnell and Brian Cournoyer for the New Paltz BOE. Both are experienced members of the board who have navigated Cuomo’s 2% tax cap with their eye on the big picture. They have managed our district through the fiscal stress and towards a position that truly supports all aspects of our district, including academics, athletics and the arts. They have demonstrated their support for the Racial Equity Committee. I believe this is an important and necessary step forward for our community and we need to elect BOE members who will be open and have the willingness to change. It is for this reason I am also supporting Diana Armstead. She will bring a much-needed perspective to the board.

Cynthia Listort

New Paltz

 

Vote for the Dream Team

I write in support of Brian Cournoyer, Michael O’Donnell, and Diana Armstead for the New Paltz Board of Education. It is my belief that this group of talented, smart and community-minded individuals would collectively make a Dream Team.

Brian is one of the smartest, most thoughtful people I know. He’s done a superb job on the board, and I’m grateful that he is running again. Brian’s ability to see the big picture is nicely complemented by Michael’s attention to detail and Diana’s community service experience. Together, this is the perfect team to serve our students on the Board of Education. I urge you to vote for them for the New Paltz School Board.

Greg Olear

New Paltz

 

Support Meghan Goodnow for the New Paltz School District BOE

I’m writing in support of Meghan Goodnow as a candidate for the New Paltz School District Board of Education. I’ve had the privilege of working with Meghan on the New Paltz Middle School PTA board for the past year as well as a member for the last two years. Her efforts for being an advocate for our children go above and beyond those of most parents. Her work ethic is strong and she always sees a way to get things done; she possess a “yes we can” attitude

On May 15th, I will be voting for Meghan Goodnow and I hope you will too

Jen Puleo

New Paltz

 

Goodnow, LaPolt and Garcia get our votes

We are parents, guardians and friends of student athletes, musicians, artists, drama and various other club members at the New Paltz Middle School and New Paltz High School. We are and have been very concerned about the New Paltz Central School District’s three year-long initiative to change our school start times. We have seen numerous presentations over the years submitted by district administrators and nothing has been deemed suitable. We have been to Board of Education meetings, along with coaches, teachers and students in our district who have repeatedly spoken out against this idea, but still, it remains on the board’s agenda year after year.

We understand the data and research behind this issue, but in order for this information to be valid, it has to work in our district. So far, it has not. How many more presentations and forums about this must we endure? Another three years? There has to be a better way. We agree with and support the creation of a Health and Wellness Center at the New Paltz High School. Many studies support the physical, emotional and mental health benefits of regular exercise, yoga, meditation and other types of stress and anxiety-reducing wellness practices. The cost of this is minimal, as we already have a space within the high school building procured for this type of development.

We support three candidates for the New Paltz Board of Education who endorse our ideas in making this dream a reality for our student body and staff. Meghan Goodnow, Glenn LaPolt and Joe Garcia, have all stated publicly that they do not support a later school start time for our middle and high school students, which may subsequently negatively affect all athletics and extracurricular activities in our district, but instead support a Health and Wellness Center, something much more tangible and substantial. Our students deserve better, they deserve to have something that has been proven to reduce anxiety, depression, disease and increase overall physical and emotional well-being. Let’s give our students a lifetime of good health habits!

Jill & Matthew Cook, Dawn Wolstencroft & Steven Takacs, Omar & Tanya Santos, Doug & Teresa Thompson, Kevin & Annie Saunders, Tony Osborne, Ed & Jill Burke, John & Melanie Hoffmann, Judelca Guerrero, Carmine Fuoco & Michelle Fazio-Fuoco, Jen Puleo, Kenny & Karen Verney, Jeff & Carmen DiMarco, Nicole Cutler, Jim Verney, Nick & Jeana Fanelli, George & Cathy Sifre, Christopher & Julie Heisel, Randy & Theresa Cain, Jane Verney, Holly Christine Kramer, Anthony & Monika Barrese, Jason & Jacqueline Triguero, Teri Coulard, Brian & Amber Boshko, Billy O’Connor, Howard Hefty & Corinne LaPolt, Josie LaPolt, Jerry & Teresa Barbato, Lanny Migliorato & Deb Hernandez-Migliorato, Joe & Annette Tanzi, Kevin & Beth Barry, Richard & Lori Byers, Chris Ruger, Heather Harp, Dan & Michelle Drewnowski, Jeff Struzzieri & Trish Bragg, James DeArce & Beth Margulies, Michael Giancola, Brian & Pamela Pece, Julie Alessi, Kelly Fitzpatrick O’Donnell, Frank & Louise Donato, Matthew & Mia Friedle, Shaun & Tammy Byrne, Greg & Teresa Ceragioli, Itala Guzman & Steven Steinback, David & Teresa Dones, Kevin & Karen Mumford, Donna Brooks, Patrick Hono & PJ Koehler Hono, Andrew & Almira Mironchik, David & Danielle Salvestrini, Rich & Janine Russo, Danielle & Dave Murphy, Peter & Leslie Rubin, Ellen Dietz, Victoria Guardino, Daria & Andy Cymbal, Bill Tschumi, Laurie Vlamis, Brian Keenan & Anne Marie Gaynor, Elizabeth Schlag, Rose Pannuto, Nick DiMarco, Joe DiMarco, Diana & Kevin O’Connell, Lisa & BJ Wilson, Kyle Hoffmann, Emma Hoffmann, Eric & Heather Brandt, Jasmine Queen-O’Connell, Bob & Donna LaPolt, Matt & Joanne Metzger, Ana Fabiano, Jaynie Aristeo, Joe & Teri Apuzzo, Jay Harlow, Kaela Santos, Nicholas Thompson, Mike & Renata Crimi, Fred & Kristen Fischer, Amy & Scott Harrington, Marcy Bernstein, Mark Thomas, Hank & Nancy Vance, Doreen Strang, Lindsey Takacs, Brianna Verney, Winter Eyres, Tom Tegeler, Michael Vance, Chris & Stephanie Baker, Jennifer Pottinger, Scott Cuppett, Mike & Sandy Hekking, Marielle Giancola, Michael & Jennifer Geisler, Ryan Pullman, Scott & Alison Butler, Mike & Betty Watts, Dan & Nikki Clasby, Craig & Michelle Thomas, Clancy & Dustin Vos, Scott & Angela Fiordaliso, Josephine Brognano, Cesar Dones, Jeff & Whitney Burns, Megan E. Thomas, Sharon Randolph, Nicole Mischo, Jenn Markwerth, Michael & Liz Gurdin, Tim & Molly Messina, Paul & Holly Fariello, Lauren Rooney, Hannah Takacs, Roger Dennison, Diane Gleichenhaus, Bob Geller, Rocco Panetta, George Boyle, Philip Bruce, CJ Burke, Corey Burke, Alexis Garcia, Thuy Bonagura, Devin Zapka, Steve & Diana Branche, Christin Seward, David Shipe, Heather Neilsen, Quentin & Anne Marie Dixon and Matthew Hooper

New Paltz, Gardiner, Highland, Esopus

 

Three voices, one mission = sectarianism

“Three voices, one mission” are the first words on the website of the school-board slate of “Goodnow, LaPolt & Garcia,” a tight-knit athletic group of three candidates for the New Paltz School Board election. I write because they and their supporters appear to be a monolithic one-issue group bent on taking over the school board and pushing the limited agenda of Teresa Thompson: to stop discussion on changing the start time of school and now to construct a Health & Wellness Center at the New Paltz High School. They argue that any change to the school start time will affect the athletic and music programs. They forget the medical, academic and psychological benefits of letting adolescent students sleep a little more according to research. Teresa has only served ten months as a school board member, has been frustrated as a newbie and is used to being in control of the PTA’s. She does not understand community consensus and State and board procedures for new construction that could cost millions of dollars. Nor does she remember the disaster bond vote of February 9, 2010 that went down 2,561 no votes to 983 yes votes when it was proposed to spend $50 million on mostly the Middle School. It then took five years to pass a new bond in 2015 of $52 million for all facilities, under the leadership of Brian Cournoyer as board president who is now running again for re-election. She wishes to defeat him, the current board president, Michael O’Donnell as well as 20+ year school volunteer Diana Armstead.

The problem with their mantra of “three voices, one mission” is that the politics of sectarianism at the national level is now showing its head in the New Paltz School Board election campaign to fill three of seven board seats in the vote of May 15. Teresa’s three-slate candidate names are already on blue lawn signs which reinforces that they are really a sectarian slate. Teresa’s slate will surely create another slate of the other three candidates, and the community war we saw around the bond vote of 2010 will explode again. Teresa Thompson’s single issue of a multi-million dollar construction of a Health & Wellness Center at the New Paltz High School will go down because it ignores the wellness needs of the students at the other three school buildings. Other concerns expressed are smoke and mirrors. The approach of Teresa Thompson will not develop district-wide consensus for a Health and Wellness center but a community war again.

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This misguided current board member is the leader of “three voices, one mission” that can be seen in her long letter to the editor of April 26, 2018 where she presents her sectarian slate. She signs the letter inappropriately and maybe illegally — Teresa Thompson, Trustee New Paltz Central School District Board of Education to show board support of her candidates. She riled up the parents of students in the athletic and music programs with misinformation that the other six sitting board members were opposed to athletic and music programs and that two excellent board members Michael O’Donnell and Brian Cournoyer need to be replaced and candidate Diana Armstead’s experience and 20+ year volunteer record be a non-issue. The issue here is not the current board and Diana Armstead but the failure of sports advocates to bring their ideas in a careful, reasoned presentation for a Health and Wellness Center through a written proposal process. Process has value and their interest should have been brought to the former director of athletics, Antonia Woody, high school principal, Barbara Clinton and superintendent, Maria Rice for the school administration to critique, support and present in turn to the Board of Education. Instead what I witnessed was a sudden uprising by the athletic community to high jack reasoned discussion on school start-time and consideration of a Health and Wellness Center during the 2018-2019 budget forum discussions presented by the superintendent over the course of the last month.

The major issue for the voters on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 is to decide if they want the BOE to be dominated by the sectarianism of Teresa Thompson and her misguided slate and like-minded allies OR go with the stable and known record of Diana Armstead, Michael O’Donnell and Brian Cournoyer.

Edgar Rodriguez

New Paltz

 

Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell for reelection to the New Paltz Board of Education

Please consider the reelection of Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell to the New Paltz Board of Education on May 15.

Both fiscally responsible and thoughtfully progressive, these gentlemen maintain the best interests of the children, educators and residents of New Paltz.

Brian Cournoyer has served on the BOE for two terms, holding multiple positions. Overseeing the Capital Bond project in 2015, crafting parameters for a Racial Equity Committee and increasing the fund balance to over $2 million are some of the many successes that resonate with me. He is thoughtful, intelligent and a great listener. There are few people who can communicate as clearly and as fairly as Brian. His level of expertise is an irreplaceable asset to this board.

Michael O’Donnell, current BOE president, has great attention to detail and an unparalleled ability to forecast trends. Michael’s dedication to maintain and cross-compare this district’s database of expenditures to others across the State, his willingness to educate himself on public and educational policy, and his line-item audit on the budget every year are a few of the many strengths he brings to the table.

The ideologies of Brian and Michael compliment and counter-balance each other. The New Paltz Board of Education is a better group because of the talents, expertise and tireless dedication of both Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell.

Jim Nocito

New Paltz

 

I support Diana Armstead, Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell for the New Paltz BOE

I’m writing to express my support for Diana Armstead, Brian Cournoyer, and Michael O’Donnell for Board of Education.

It will be an absolute pleasure to cast my vote for Brian and Michael once again. During their tenure on the board they have shown themselves, time and time again, as volunteers who are willing to do the homework necessary to make informed and logical decisions. Michael’s analytic abilities and Brian’s thoughtful, empathetic discourse have been key components toward the progress the district has been able to make over the last six years.

However, they can’t do it alone, and for that I am so happy to see that Diana Armstead has offered to make the commitment to serve on the Board of Education. Her voice — as a longstanding community volunteer, a mother and grandmother, and a professional focused on supporting vulnerable children and families — is needed and welcome.

As the mother of two children in the district and an active school volunteer, I have seen first-hand how the school climate can be affected by the words and actions of those in power. It’s essential that the people in charge of our students’ health and well-being model compassion, empathy, and a willingness to make thoughtful decisions on behalf of all involved. I have no doubt that these three candidates are the ones we want at the helm as our district moves into the future. Please join me in voting yes for the school budget and yes for Diana Armstead, Brian Cournoyer and Michael O’Donnell on May 15.

Jenn Voorhis

New Paltz

 

There is more to sports than just winning or losing

School sports funding is gaining attention in our community. It needs attention.

My experience with school district athletics dates back to 2003 when I managed to get the school superintendent (Al Derry at the time) to find funds to build the basketball courts at the middle school because back then there weren’t any. He wanted nothing to do with this. Then the YBA and the PTA got behind it. And then the high school athletic director wanted tennis courts at the middle school because the college courts were closed for repairs. The baseball team needed a new field. And out of this weird confluence, Al Derry’s office suddenly announced that all three of these things — the middle school basketball court, the tennis courts and the baseball field — were going to be funded and all three facilities were done.

“This is how facilities get built here?” I thought, no long-term plan with found money, just reacting to immediate needs and public pressure? My son played on those courts, and both my kids did modified and varsity sports. Over these 15 years, I had a lot of questions about the facilities and uniforms. Do all teams have to buy their own equipment? What about families that can’t manage to pay for this equipment? Are girls’ sports actually funded equally to boys’ sports?

Here’s my analysis of the situation: The former athletic director budgets made little to no effort for long-term funding for the sports programs. Barring that, the administrators above quashed any efforts because the school budget is presented to the BOE by the administrators. It seemed the previous athletic director cared about two things: that physical forms were in on time and that no one had anything bad to say. I am glad we have a new athletic director who appears more proactive. And now that we are out of the great recession, glad to see increases for sports teams.

Going back to 2010, the school budget shows increased funding for sports, not including salaries as follows:

  • 2010-11 $311,300; 2011-12 $318,600;
  • 2012-13 $318,900; 2013-14 $318,500;
  • 2014-15 $316,000; 2015-16 $316,000;
  • 2016-17 $324,100; 2017-18 $363,900; and
  • 2018-19 $377,000 (if approved in the May budget vote). (source http://www.newpaltz.k12.ny.us/page/11203)

As you can see the BOE has approved a school budget increasing athletic funding almost 20% since 2016, assuming the upcoming school budget passes. Whether to credit the new athletic director or students and parents speaking up, these requested increases have been approved by the BOE.

This BOE is a very knowledgeable and capable group. Michael O’Donnell and Brian Cournoyer have moved the school district forward and Diana Armstead will join them to move all parts of the school district forward. Demands on the school budget means dealing with a lot of demands — class sizes, leaking roofs, librarian funding, buses, hiring and firing, racial equity and yes, proper athletic funding. We owe Michael and Brian our thanks, and they deserve to be re-elected.

Reports continually show that arts/theater and sports help many kids get through and thrive in high school. We should decide to proceed with a reasoned discussion about athletics and school funding remembering that the things that we have in common are greater than any that divide us.

There is more to sports than just winning or losing — it’s how you play the game.

Linda Geary

Gardiner

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