Poughkeepsie Leaders Discuss Common Issues

POUGHKEEPSIE – Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser joined Mayor Rob Rolison last Thursday evening to provide the community with updates on the city and the school district. The meeting was broadcast live on Facebook and can still be viewed. Dr. Rosser provided an overview of the district’s budget shortfall and upcoming budget vote, as well as the distance learning program and other updates.

The district budget deficit is $1.8 million, and Rosser joined Rolison in encouraging viewers to contact their congressman to request federal assistance for both the city and the school district. On May 19, Dr. Rosser will present his budget to the school board for consideration. The 2019-2020 budget that was approved by voters was $105,146,021. The leader of the district hinted that a tax increase is inevitable given the financial crisis. The budget is still be drafted and Rosser noted that he is very mindful of the financial stresses caused by the pandemic. Rosser said that his goal is to “not present a budget where the school taxes rise tremendously.”

Governor Cuomo has ordered that all upcoming voting be conducted remotely. As a result of the mandate, all eligible voters will be sent mail-in ballots in which they will indicate their vote on the budget and mail it back to the district. The return postage will be paid for by the district and ballots must be received by 5 PM on June 9.

Regarding the distance-learning that was instituted several weeks ago, Rosser acknowledged that a few issues have surfaced and are being addressed. “Things may not be perfect but we are working towards perfection,” he said. The district had provided a survey to all district families to determine the need for devices for students to continue learning at home. The district was in possession of 1,250 Google Chromebooks. With the data compiled, the district has distributed 1,249 of the devices and is expecting a delivery of an additional 500 in the coming days. Rosser credited Nuvance Health, operator of Vassar Brothers Medical Center, with identifying resources to aid in providing the devices to those in need.

The school district has begun using Google Classroom as the distance learning platform where students can access and complete their schoolwork. Each student is already set up to engage in instruction and learning on Google Classroom. The Google platform allows educators to create a virtual classroom to enable students to continue learning. Teachers can post assignments, announcements, and other resources for use by students. Students can submit their assignments on the platform and also interact with their teachers virtually.

Noting that at least 296 households in the city do not have internet access, the district has worked with the Poughkeepsie Library District to provide 50 hotspots to date with more becoming available. Additionally, local cable providers are providing free internet service to households with students.

High school seniors will not be graduating in the traditional manner but Rosser made them a pledge during the meeting, noting that Poughkeepsie High School Principal Kelleyann Royce-Giron has been developing a way to allow the graduates to be recognized for their accomplishments. Calling the plan “A dynamite way to celebrate the seniors,” Rosser indicated that the details will be unveiled in the near future. “You will not be disappointed,” he told the viewers.

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