NEWBURGH – The Newburgh Enlarged City School District held a regular Board of Education meeting last Tuesday.
The Board of Education consists of nine volunteer residents of the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. According to the district website, “the Board is responsible for approving the district’s budget, adopting all policies and curriculum, and evaluating the superintendent.”
Board members are elected each year and typically serve three-year terms. Three new board members began serving on the board after the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year.
Some new academic policies were proposed to the district residents who attended the meeting. For instance, the Board introduced a new homework policy. If approved, the maximum homework percentage grade from a course allowed will be 25%, as opposed to the previous 5%. This applies to grades K-12.
Despite this being a first reading and there being no vote yet, people vocalized their concerns.
“Homework was always one of my weaknesses,” said Andre Niles, who graduated high school in 2001. “If I did not have time to do my homework in the school building, it was not getting done. When I came home from school, I had one hour to take a nap and then I had to go straight to work. This was my junior and senior year. I worked at the library.”
“What about the single mom who is at work all day and then comes home at 6:30 at night and still has to find the strength to help her child with homework,” said district resident Charlie Burks.
“Especially minorities have different circumstances at home that doesn’t allow for them to do homework at the same rate as other people. Take some time, step out of your comfort box a little bit, and think about other people and other life situations that they might have. They might not have a proper table to set up and do their homework,” said Niles. According to publicschoolreview.com, Newburgh Free Academy, which serves grades 9-12 in the district, has an 81% minority enrollment.
“I want the parents and the community members who are present to know that I hear you and see you,” said Letitia Politi, one of the newly elected Board members.
The Board also introduced a possible removal of a minimum marking period grade of 55 per marking period, which also had people vocal.
“You all know as teachers that a kid can get a 10 one marking period and a 100 the next marking period and still fail the grade because that 10 will pull them down. How are you encouraging our children to pass? I will ask you that,” said Burks.
“It’s not about demoralizing our kids,” said Phillip Howard, a member of the Board. “It’s about the social and emotional aspect.”
“We have students that we heard from in our community, and we know there are students that have challenges that are outside our control,” said Ed Forgit, the Deputy Superintendent of Schools.
“It’s always about the kids with me. Instead of changing policies to ‘I got you moments’ for kids, let’s look at kids that are failing and look at what is causing them to fail. Let’s try to get that resource or those that help for the children. I don’t think a lot of people that are making these decisions really know what these kids go through,” said Howard.
Board Vice President and former teacher Deborah Bouley disagrees with the introduced policy, albeit for a different reason. “Kids are not stupid. They know that all they have to do for the year is earn 40 points. I personally want way better for kids. I don’t want them to believe that they need to get the free 220 points to succeed.”