The Newburgh Enlarged City School District recently announced the results of its 2020-21 Board of Education elections.
On the ballot were proposition one and two, and four different spots on the board. Out of all the seven candidates, incumbents Carole Mineo, Darren Stridiron, and William Walker won seats. Mark Levinstein, a former member of the board, also won a spot.
When it comes to proposition one, 4,132 people voted yes to approve the school budget of $287,432,60. When it comes to proposition two, 4081 people voted to approve the library budget of $9,224,070.
In addition to the election results, the board also presented a video that celebrated retirees, offered a graduation update, capital project update, and reopening update.
As of now, the district plans to hold an in-person graduation at Academy Field on June 29 and June 30. In order to meet the state’s guidelines of no more than 150 people at a time, the school will hold graduation at NFA Main and NFA North. There will be three time slots. More details are expected to be released on Thursday for students. If new information comes out, the community will be updated accordingly.
“Graduation is rite of passage and because of COVID, this traditional ceremony has forever been altered,” said Superintendent Dr. Roberto Padilla. “Our scholars have been phenomenal, they understand why it needs to change. They understand the safety and the wellbeing of everyone is critically important.”
The district also recently partook in a thought exchange with members of the district. Most of the thoughts celebrated teachers, offered concerns about issues with distance learning, or applauded distance learning.
When it comes to school reopenings, many hope that there will be physical reopenings this fall. At the moment the future is unclear. The district is currently examining other states in preparation for a potential reopening. The district expects to still have to use distance learning to an extent this fall. The district is looking at what measures it can take on and what measures it can change to keep students and staff safe during the incoming school year.
Roger Ramjug, director of management efficiency and capital projects administrator for the district, provided an update on the capital bond project. He also provided an update on the energy performance contract.
At NFA Main, the solar energy system is complete and is generating approximately 175 kilowatts of power. NFA Main has the largest facility. At the board of education building, the solar system installation is about 40 to 50 percent complete.
The energy performance contract is exhibiting progress in areas like LED lighting, windows, and more.
By this Friday, the district will have completed all of the education planning sessions and designed research for the CTE Center, Heritage Middle School, New Windsor Elementary School, and Vails Gate Elementary School. The next step will be further meetings with the board on the capital bond project.
In a tense moment, Phillip Howard, board member, brought up the nation’s current ongoing battle with race and police brutality.
“My heart is very heavy, I’m hurting, and it’s no secret what’s going in our country today,” said Howard.
“As an elected body, a school of board members who represent all students,” said Howard. “I feel that we should adopt a resolution that speaks towards blacks lives movements but in our schools.”
Howard said that there’s an intersection between the goals of black lives matter and education.
“If we do not acknowledge that racism is prevalent in education,” said Howard. “We’re not being honest with each other, and that’s a problem.”
Mineo asked for a resolution to be brought up at the next meeting for the purpose of addressing Howard’s request. Ramona Burton, board member, asked for clarification on Howard’s request.
Howard said that he’s looking for a statement that says the board understands what black lives matter means, and that the board is firmly anti-racist.
Burton said she’s on the fence because she doesn’t believe merely a statement is enough. She believes that it needs to be incorporated into the district’s curriculum and current work.
“It’s just not enough for me,” said Burton.
“What I’m saying is that we as a board make a commitment to action to changing policy and practices that existed historically in education and this district,” said Howard. “I’m saying that we need to make a commitment to action, not just a statement.”
“That resolution will say that we are making a commitment to action to support that black lives matter in our school today,” said Howard.
Mineo said the board has to start with a statement first.
“I know that it can’t be done overnight [complete action against racism,” said Howard. “I’m just saying we’re making a commitment to action.”
Many board members seemed to support Howard’s sentiment.
“I don’t think it’s a resolution that should come from the lawyers,” said Levinstein. “I think it should come from the heart of some of the board members or community members to come up with a fair and precise statement of what we’d like to do.”
Levinstein said it’s okay for the board’s legal team to check the statement, but he believes the statement must come from the heart.
Stridiron critiqued Howard’s request.
“I don’t need a statement six years after I get on the board to tell people how I feel,” said Stridiron. “I do believe black lives matter. I will not support any political organization; whether it be Republican, Democrat, Independent. I don’t think the board should be picking political organizations in a statement.”
“I did not say the black lives matter movement or organization,” said Howard in response. “What I said was that black lives matter at schools. That’s just an idea; That’s an idea that black lives matter here too. Just for a correction; black lives matter is not a political organization, it’s a movement. It’s valuing life. It’s about valuing life.”
Mineo said she’d like to create a subcommittee chaired by Howard. The subcommittee will also include Walker and Levinstein.