Community Update - Dr. George Stone - May 19, 2020
On Thursday, May 14th, the Lakeland Board of Education approved the 2020-2021 budget. Understanding how difficult times currently are, the District will use reserve funds to balance the budget, and residents will have no increase in their local taxes. All six towns will see a decrease in tax rates, as the assessed value of property has gone up. All votes will be by absentee ballot, and the ballots must be received by June 9th, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. Three incumbent Board Members, Denise Kness, Rachelle Nardelli, and Donald Pinkowsky are all on the ballot running unopposed for three-year terms. We are also asking voters to consider a 4.2 million dollar bond to complete the middle school roof. A hearing on the budget will take place online, Thursday, May 28th beginning at 7:00 p.m. All questions about the budget should be submitted to the District Clerk prior to the hearing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The plans we have described for graduation have been submitted to the Westchester County Executive for consideration and hopefully, approval. So far, all plans from districts that have proposed gatherings of any kind have been denied permission. We have heard from parents and students and understand that the most important part of the ceremony is the opportunity for graduates to walk across the stage in their caps and gowns. We are attempting to design it in such a way that we hope will be allowed. In the meantime, our high schools will be sending the graduates a Google Slide template to fill out with pictures, and a quote that we can use in the final production of graduation, hopefully including the graduation walks.
We are also looking forward to the senior parade, which is scheduled for June 6th, beginning at 1:00 p.m. Cars with seniors will make their way through the Jefferson Valley Mall and out to Route 6. The cars with seniors are invited to drive down Route 6 as far as Locust Avenue, where a congratulations banner will end the route. Parents may share the car with their senior, or maybe in their car in a safe parking lot along Route 6. We, along with the Town of Yorktown and the Yorktown Police, the Town of Cortlandt and the County Police, need to strongly emphasize that parents, family members, and the public should not plan to attend or gather at the JV Mall either as pedestrians or in cars other than with their seniors. This is a celebration for the seniors during a time of social distancing and prohibited gatherings, and monitoring the parade will be the safety priority. Again, parents may park in shopping centers along Route 6 to wave at seniors as they go by, but please do not congregate in the JV Mall lots.
We are getting numerous questions about the fall and our plans for returning to school. Given the large number of issues involved, many of the decisions will need to be made regionally, as we have staff living in different districts. They will also be preparing arrangements for their own children and their teaching responsibilities. Many different suggestions are being made about scheduling, staffing, and providing instruction for both students at school and students at home should we be faced with those kinds of conditions. In order to best prepare, we are establishing the Lakeland Re-Entry Task Force, which will consist of four re-entry teams, to consider the options and work with surrounding districts. One will be the Academic Re-Entry Team, headed by Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Dr. Karen Gagliardi. A second will be the Special Services Re-Entry Team, headed by Dr. Steve Rappleyea, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services, to deal with all of the issues surrounding services for classified students and others with special needs. The third will be the Facilities Re-Entry Team, that will consider transportation, food service, facilities and cleaning, headed by George Prine, Director of Facilities, and the fourth will be the Technology Re-entry Team to establish all of the necessary communications and capacity for new programs, headed by Dwayne Hoffmann, Director of Technology. All teams will be working together under the coordination of the Superintendent. We will be seeking additional team members both from district staffing, the Board, and the community. If you feel you have expertise that could be of help, please email me for further information.
Here are some updates on projects throughout the District. At Lakeland High School, the tennis courts and sidewalks have been paved. Once all of the striping is completed, and fencing is up, the clean-up of the site will begin. The press box still needs to be installed, and everything should be finished by July 1st. At Van Cortlandtville Elementary, the playground paving is underway, and scheduling of the connecting corridor construction is being completed. At George Washington Elementary, a playground area adjacent to the paved area that will then be available for parking is being scheduled for paving this summer. With the additional playground area, parking will increase to comparable space numbers at Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln Titus. In addition, the outside lighting is currently being installed as well. We will also be re-caulking the swimming pool at the Middle School, which is long overdue and much less expensive with the pool currently drained. All buildings are currently removing personal belongings for pick up to begin the summer cleaning for the new year.
Interim reports for secondary students will be available to parents on May 29th. Also, at this time, we are setting up online registrations for kindergarten. We still do not have a lot of information to share about the official end date of school this year and are awaiting further guidance from legal counsel.
We are also beginning installations related to the changes in health considerations. Plexiglass shields will be installed, starting with receptionists and security personnel who meet and greet the public directly. After that, we will look at other areas that may come in contact with the public.
I will continue to keep you updated as I receive more information.
Dr. George E. Stone
Lakeland Central School District