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You are here: Home Shout it Out Letter to the Editor: "Greenacres School Process is a Sham"
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Letter to the Editor: "Greenacres School Process is a Sham"

constructionThis Letter to the Editor was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Andy Taylor:

This whole GA school process has been a sham. It has not been open and I truly believe that this process has been strong armed to get to what is believed/perceived as a lower risk bond vote. As a tax payer I know the community is getting a truly poor value given the proposed GA renovation - it's just a poorly designed and scoped project. Way too much cost for way too little benefit. I'd happily pay higher taxes if we got value, I'd prefer to save vs. this option. As a father and member of the community I truly believe that the school board is shifting an unacceptable amount of risk and burden on the GA community because of its lack of leadership. Here is a simple truth - Scarsdale is an old town with old schools and will have to eventually figure out ways to truly upgrade/replace the facilities through time. This won't be easy, but dumping a significant sum of money into a bandaid and retaining huge facility shortcomings doesn't work. This is further compounded by ignoring the sprawling open construction site that children are intended to navigate daily and learn in. If I hear another inane quip about how we have kids in school during construction regularly in Scarsdale I might lose it. The community of Scarsdale has never tried construction of this scale and scope on such a tight site, in this proximity of children, for such duration before. This is a real issue for parents that has largely been ignored.

The board seems to have gone out of its way on multiple occasions to minimize or hamper community involvement. Waiting until the end of school board meetings - close to midnight on weekdays before opening up public comment on GA school (personally experienced this 3x - once sitting there waiting while the school board finished a decision about font size on wall plaques - sure seemed like they intended to wait out GA parents - trying to thin the crowd). Having final "deliberations" on Greenacres school on a weekday morning at the end of summer is a nice way to help ensure less involvement from busy families with young children who are out of town prior to the start of school. Nothing about this process has appeared to be done in good faith: last minute meeting announcements, limited disclosure of detailed plans, no discussion weighing complete costs of options at public meetings. The "open" discussions truly appear to be a show, devoid of any real analysis and evaluation - despite constant community requests for just that. This whole process has made me cynical about our educational infrastructure and truly saddens me that the reps of our community refuse to have an adult conversation with the community. I have had a few private conversations with members of the school board, and they have acknowledged and validated much of my concerns. It is as if there is some invisible momentum to get a specific result. I and a large number of GA families that I am in touch with will be voting no on the bond because of the way the school board (and superintendent) have attempted to strong arm this process.

Andy Taylor

Comments   

+12 #18 Greenacres parent 2017-09-19 11:20
I am completely okay with a renovation or expansion but this current plan seems really bad. It is so much money to get so little! I wish the administration would just step back and try to get this right. This is a lot of money to waste.
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-2 #17 Not accurate 2017-09-19 09:00
[quote name="GA Dad"]One thing is for sure. The people in Greenacres that aren't in favor of the current plan, are definitely unanimously against it.

And the people who are in favor of the current plan are definitely unanimously for it.

And the people who are undecided are definitely unanimously undecided.
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+1 #16 GA Dad 2017-09-18 23:30
One thing is for sure. The people in Greenacres that aren't in favor of the current plan, are definitely unanimously against it.

Quoting K. Ramza:
First, I take serious issue with anyone that says "all" or "most" of Greenacres is against this project. It's just simply not a fair statement at all. Of course there are people that are opposed but there many that support the project as well including many of my friends and neighbors. There are also many people in GA that are busy with their lives and where this
isn't a priority and we won't know their view until there is a bond vote (assuming they show up to vote).

Second, the idea that this is a "sham" is not only inaccurate, but disrespectful to the District and to the Board who in my judgment have been acting in good faith to do what is best and what is reasonable. Feel free to disagree, but don't belittle hard working school employees and volunteers that are serving the community.

Do you honestly think they aren't listening? I can assure you they are listening carefully. They just happen to disagree and have reached different conclusions which is really what is bothersome to most people that oppose this project.
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+13 #15 Sham Seems Like the Appropriate Word 2017-09-18 19:37
Consider just some of the actions of the School Board and administration designed to limit criticism and public participation:

Scheduling a meeting to decide the direction of the project on a weekday morning during the week of July 4th = sham

Refusing to come to Greenacres to discuss concerns = sham

Disbanding the former building committee and refusing to appoint a new one until after the project's direction had been set = sham

Refusal to engage in any discussions with concerned parents = sham

Failing to provide a way to contact Building Committee and Districtwide Committee representatives = sham

And just this month, finally allowing their consultants to come to Greenacres to meet with parents, but requiring all questions to be submitted in advance to be screened = sham

I'm sure I've missed some examples, but I have to say, "sham" does look like the right word.
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-4 #14 K. Ramza 2017-09-18 18:52
First, I take serious issue with anyone that says "all" or "most" of Greenacres is against this project. It's just simply not a fair statement at all. Of course there are people that are opposed but there many that support the project as well including many of my friends and neighbors. There are also many people in GA that are busy with their lives and where this isn't a priority and we won't know their view until there is a bond vote (assuming they show up to vote).

Second, the idea that this is a "sham" is not only inaccurate, but disrespectful to the District and to the Board who in my judgment have been acting in good faith to do what is best and what is reasonable. Feel free to disagree, but don't belittle hard working school employees and volunteers that are serving the community.

Do you honestly think they aren't listening? I can assure you they are listening carefully. They just happen to disagree and have reached different conclusions which is really what is bothersome to most people that oppose this project.
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+13 #13 M. Dirk 2017-09-18 18:43
Are the Greenacres and the District wide facilities meetings open to the public? Why are the meetings at 3pm when people are working or picking up kids? Incredible that this behavior is going on in Scarsdale! Quoting J. Schwartzberg:
I agree with you that building a new school would also cause all kinds of issues. What is not being addressed is why the Board of Education is not pressuring the superintendent to be open about the Administration's decision making process.Are the facilities committees open to the public? Quoting Not accurate:
This is all sour grapes. If the school board decided to build a new school the "save the field" camp would be saying the same thing--not enough transparency, sham, terrible superintendent, etc. You can't please everyone.

Regarding the "open construction site" what exactly do you think would occur with a new school? Do you think they would use helicopters to drop a brand new school onto the playground and clear out the old school in a day? Week? Month? Building a new school would actually be worse for our families as we'd have no playground for at least a year if not more while they built the new school on it and demolished the old school once it was ready. There is no good option here but at least with the proposed option our kids would be able to use most of the large playground during the construction.

And to the posters asking non-GA families to vote NO you should be ashamed of yourselves for putting your own pettiness and politics above the Villages' kids who all deserve improvements to their school.
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+9 #12 It s not all about the lowest cost 2017-09-18 15:57
The board and administration only looked at saving the last penny on anything that came across their table and did not question at all the long term assumptions after last year's reval debacle.
All of those 'savings' are achieved from pushing that cost on to the children who need to go thru 4 years of stop and go construction.
I don't think that's what Scarsdale is all about. The Library project moved on despite the next increase in taxes. If it makes sense people will vote for it. But this bond projects don't makes sense as they stand...
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+13 #11 GA Father 2017-09-18 14:26
Quoting J. Schwartzberg:
I agree with you that building a new school would also cause all kinds of issues. What is not being addressed is why the Board of Education is not pressuring the superintendent to be open about the Administration's decision making process.Are the facilities committees open to the public? Quoting Not accurate:
This is all sour grapes. If the school board decided to build a new school the "save the field" camp would be saying the same thing--not enough transparency, sham, terrible superintendent, etc. You can't please everyone.

Regarding the "open construction site" what exactly do you think would occur with a new school? Do you think they would use helicopters to drop a brand new school onto the playground and clear out the old school in a day? Week? Month? Building a new school would actually be worse for our families as we'd have no playground for at least a year if not more while they built the new school on it and demolished the old school once it was ready. There is no good option here but at least with the proposed option our kids would be able to use most of the large playground during the construction.

And to the posters asking non-GA families to vote NO you should be ashamed of yourselves for putting your own pettiness and politics above the Villages' kids who all deserve improvements to their school.


How is it sour grapes to point out that the superintendent / school board seem to have deliberately scheduled meetings and delayed discussion to minimize community input and scrutiny? I guess it's possible that someone out there may think the process over the last six months has been transparent and inclusive, but they would have a hard time convincing most of the Greenacres community that that was the case.

I have children in the school. I had a slight preference for a new school, but I was certainly open to being convinced that a renovation would be a better option for the children and the broader community. It's quite possible that it is a better option, but the process by which it was chosen has been so opaque and poorly run that it seems unlikely. If it were truly the best option for the community, there would have been no need to go to such lengths to exclude them from the decision process.
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+15 #10 Not a Greenacres parent 2017-09-18 14:18
I'm not in the Greenacres area but I do feel bad for these neighbors. This is how Scarsdale operates, look at other issues in this town and it's always the same pattern. Meaningless public hearings, just to give the appearance as if the public has any input.
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+11 #9 J. Schwartzberg 2017-09-18 12:20
I agree with you that building a new school would also cause all kinds of issues. What is not being addressed is why the Board of Education is not pressuring the superintendent to be open about the Administration' s decision making process.Are the facilities committees open to the public? Quoting Not accurate:
This is all sour grapes. If the school board decided to build a new school the "save the field" camp would be saying the same thing--not enough transparency, sham, terrible superintendent, etc. You can't please everyone.

Regarding the "open construction site" what exactly do you think would occur with a new school? Do you think they would use helicopters to drop a brand new school onto the playground and clear out the old school in a day? Week? Month? Building a new school would actually be worse for our families as we'd have no playground for at least a year if not more while they built the new school on it and demolished the old school once it was ready. There is no good option here but at least with the proposed option our kids would be able to use most of the large playground during the construction.

And to the posters asking non-GA families to vote NO you should be ashamed of yourselves for putting your own pettiness and politics above the Villages' kids who all deserve improvements to their school.
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