Newburgh School Board Must Change Course

Dear Editor,

With the destruction on West Street at NFA, our high school students are learning that it is OK to disrespect nature and devalue the woodlands that have been there, a destructive lesson especially because of impacts on global warming.

This negative lesson is being taught by the district’s School Board. with their shortsighted plans for putting up a vocational building on a forested hill. It’s not OK to clear cut and grade the hill, compounding drainage problems on and off the site and destroying habitat.
The School Board is also teaching that we should disregard history and historic places. Do the students know that NFA’s main building was constructed on a pond that was part of a dairy farm, that this happened long before we had any environmental regulations?

And they are teaching that district officials should not cooperate and coordinate with the county’s Orange/Ulster BOCES, combining their financial and other resources to offer skills to all our County students in shared facilities. This is the Boards longtime and expensive position.

What are we losing if the project advances. A beautiful little forest offering opportunities for teaching science and nature, previously used by NFA educators; a location for studying how wildlife and air quality gain from this micro environment; a lesson on how we should locate construction to also allow preserving Newburgh’s trees, increasingly seen as important for the City’s streets and open spaces.

What else do we lose. The change to show young people how their adult role models can work cooperatively with each other, sharing financial resources to put up a facility that serves as, perhaps, an eastern annex to the County BOCES program and could be constructed in a decaying part of the City of Newburgh.

This would provide a big social and economic lift to that area, meanwhile bringing together youngsters from every part of Orange, helping to overcome income and racial issues.
Therefore, I urge the NECSD School Board to do the following.

Execute a U-Turn on their ignorant path.

STOP the destruction and enlist students to help immediately to reforest the woods, and take possible additional measures to help curb erosion. Teach a course on the history of NFA and the woodland.

Later, enlist the larger community in locating a suitable site for a building that would cooperatively serve BOCES, together with the School District’s vocational students.

As a Town of Newburgh resident I pay substantial taxes every year to the School District. If our School Board now has a big pot of money from the State, it must be used wisely, becauseall of these funds are taxpayer monies.

The time is long overdue to respect the public, advertise and run truly open Board meetings and avoid patronizing community voices. We are all adults.

Sandra Kissam
Town of Newburgh

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