• March 14, 2024


    Dear Friends of the New Paltz School District,


    After sending you a 15-page community update on Sunday, I did not expect to be sending another one out so soon.  However, a few items have come up that might be of interest to you.  I have also found a mistake I made in my long update that I want to correct.  I promise that this update will be short (or at least shorter).


    New COVID Guidelines from the CDC


    We continue to follow the CDC Covid guidelines.  By following these guidelines, we are ensuring that we are in line with the health guidance of the medical experts while also providing a way for covid practices to be implemented in the exact same way in all four of our buildings.


    New guidelines came out on March 1 that we will now be following throughout the district.


    So, we will follow these new guidelines.  Effective immediately, we will no longer require a 5 day isolation period for someone who tests positive for COVID.  If you have any questions about this policy change, please reach out to the nurse from your child’s building.

    Capital project slide show


    At the last board meeting, our new architectural firm, H2M, gave a presentation on the current status of the proposed capital project.  Perhaps you watched their presentation on the video.  If you did, I am sure you noticed that their slideshow was hard to see.  If you are interested, you can click on this link to see the capital project Slide Show.  


    It is awkward to be discussing a capital project when we are eliminating positions to cut $2,000,000 out of the budget.  So, please remember that:


    1. A capital project has not been decided upon at this time.

    2. A capital project would have an option 1 that includes very necessary improvements to our facilities associated with safety and function.

    3. Options 2 and 3, associated mostly with athletic facilities could only be approved if option 1 is approved by the voters.

    4. While a capital project is financed with borrowed money, it would definitely have a significant effect on our ability to balance the budget in future years.  Ultimately, the taxpayers will have to pay a portion of this bill.


    Please be assured that the school board will continue to take a careful and measured approach toward the creation of a capital project proposal to ensure that all parties are heard and that all decisions are made in the best interest of the students.


    Snow Day Give-Backs


    The weather has been great lately and it looks like spring is almost upon us.  As you may be aware, we still have three unused snow days left.  People have been reaching out to me to ask if we have made any decisions on when these snow days will be taken.


    I am going to make a recommendation to the board  at the March 20th board meeting.  I will be recommending that school not be in session on April 1st (Easter Monday) or April 8th (Solar Eclipse).  I will recommend that the final snow day should not be designated yet and that instead it should be reserved for flooding or excessive heat days later in the spring.


    I am optimistic that the board will look favorably on these recommendations.  While this information is tentative, I am hopeful that it will help you with your planning.

    Wellness Committee Initiates Fitness Challenges


    The NPCSD District Wide Wellness Committee has been meeting monthly.  The committee is composed of students, administrators, parents, teachers, community members, and a school board member.  One goal of the committee is to recommend  updates to the district wellness policy to the school board.  We continue to work on this.


    In addition, this dedicated group of individuals is enthusiastic about putting in place practices and programs that will boost the overall fitness of the school community as well as the wider community.  To that end, the Wellness Committee has  endorsed the creation of a continuing education program that will help make our facilities more available to the students, staff and community members, bring in expertise from the community that will support education and healthy living, and bring under one umbrella many of the great activities that are already going on in our community.  We hope to have a NPCSD Community Continuing Education Catalog for you to choose offerings from in the fall.


    In an effort to create more healthy opportunities for people in the short term, the committee has decided to implement a monthly fitness challenge.  Since we are approaching March Madness, committee members thought it would be appropriate to do something basketball related.  Please check out this student made Wellness Challenge video by clicking on this link.


    Pre-K Informational Night  April 4 at 6 pm in the Duzine Gymnasium


    We are excited to once again be offering a free Pre-K program for all district residents.  This year the three or four anticipated classes will be taught completely by community based organizations whose rooms will be housed in Duzine.  We have received proposals from multiple community based organizations wishing to provide Pre-K classrooms and we anticipate approving the successful applicants at the school board meeting on March 20th.


    Please join us on April 4th for our Pre-K informational night.


    Spring break


    School will not be in session from March 25 - March 29, 2024.  It is also likely that there will not be school on April 1st, Easter Monday.  We wish everyone a great break.

    Misstatement from the last update regarding instructional minutes for 6th grade


    In my last update I was talking about why it is necessary to maximize instructional time for core subjects in the elementary schools.  I commented that elementary schedules are complicated to make because so much instruction has to be packed into a relatively short day.


    Each year, NYS school districts must confirm to the state that they have provided at least 180 days of instruction.  Furthermore, schools must confirm that students in grades 1-6 have received at least 900 hours of instruction.  In addition to this rule, students in grades 7-12 must receive at least 990 hours of instruction. 


    In my last update I said that extra recess in Duzine had to be reduced by 5 minutes to enable us to have all students, K-5, receive at least 900 hours of instructional time (since lunch and recess don’t count toward instructional time).  This was correct, although full-day kindergarten is not required so technically they could have less than 900 hours of instruction.


    In addition, I said that passing time between classes in the Middle School had to be reduced from 4 minutes to 3 minutes to ensure that the 6th graders met the 900 hour minimum limit since recess, lunch, homeroom, and passing time do not count toward instructional time.  In fact, this was not correct.  Sixth graders have little trouble meeting the 900 hour requirement.  However, 7th and 8th graders do have trouble meeting the 990 hour limit.  So, I misspoke.  The change in passing time from 4 minutes to 3 minutes was made to help 7th and 8th graders meet the requirements, not 6th graders.  I apologize for the inaccuracy.


    Our Next Board Meeting will be March 20th


    Our last board meeting was very crowded.  Therefore, we have decided to move the March 20th board meeting to the MS auditorium in hopes that lots of people will attend.  This is a very important board meeting because it is likely that the board will adopt a budget for 2024-2025 at this meeting.  


    You may recall that we actually started the budget presentations earlier than planned this year because so many people were coming out and asking questions about the athletic trainer and library positions that we were not filling, and because a difficult executive budget had been released.  Since we started with budget presentations on January 18th, the board now has a great deal of information and is in  a place where they can make final decisions.   Although we have an additional budget meeting scheduled during the April 3rd school board meeting, if the board adopts the budget on March 20th there will be no budget presentation on April 3rd.


    Since final budget decisions are likely to be made on March 20th, it is very important that community members voice their opinions on the proposed $2,000,000 in cuts as soon as possible.  Whether you agree with the reductions or you don’t, the school board wants to hear from you.


    For that reason, the school board is  offering an additional opportunity for you to speak with them.  If you don’t want to send an email or you don’t feel comfortable speaking publicly at a board meeting, we encourage you to come to a Coffee Hour with the school board.  At this event, you will have the opportunity to sit with a school board member in a casual setting and tell them what you think about the budget proposal.  Please realize that they will only be able to listen and they will not be able to share their opinions with you.  However, they are very interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns.