For over a decade the Valley Central Education Foundation has bolstered its namesake school district with outside grants for teachers and school equipment. At the Valley Central Board of Education meeting on Nov. 12, Education Foundation representatives Chris Ann Harper-O’Connor, Diane Cartwright and Stacy Talarico announced that the organization would be making a $7,500 donation to the district for printers for the use of elementary students.
The funding is meant to augment the district’s STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) curriculum. “Every year they raise money,” Valley Central Superintendent John Xanthis said of the Education Foundation. “People can do a payroll deduction, and they give grants to teachers. We also applied for $7,500 in the next three years and that was the first installment tonight.” The group, which has donated $6,000 in grants for Valley Central teachers this year, has its own independent board that approves donations to the district.
At the Education Foundation’s annual Harvest Reception on Thursday, Dec. 19 at the Otterkill Golf & Country Club, renowned meteorologist Ben Noll will be honored. The Valley Central grad will be recognized alongside Robin Scott and Antoinette Oakes at the yearly fundraising event. The organization will also be hosting a meet and greet session with Noll the next night at Valley Central High School.
Pitbulls near bus stop
During last Tuesday’s meeting, local parents Sharah and Evan Petrarca brought their concerns to the board about the new bus stop that has been assigned this school year to their neighborhood on Maidstone Drive in Walden.
The residents told the board that they have been petitioning the district to revert back to the previous bus stop, since the new setup requires neighborhood children to walk past a residence that houses a pair of pitbulls. “My neighbors and I have been trying, since before the school year began, to move the bus stop,” Sharah Petrarca told the board. “The current bus stop is located next to a house with two large pitbulls with an invisible fence. One of these dogs is aggressive and has bitten three of my neighbors, two of which filed police reports. I’ve been in touch with the district administrators, and the only solutions they’ve offered is to move the bus stop further away, requiring us to walk past these dogs, the same all three neighbors did when they were bitten. This year, the bus company decided it was unsafe to turn around in the cul de sac, even though it has done so the past four years without incident.”
Petrarca explained that the family had been told that the Orange County Transit bus company had concerns about reaching the original stop when the snowfall comes. “In the past four years, the bus has safely come down Maidstone Drive and turned around the cul de sac,” she informed the board. “I’m not asking for the bus to stop at every house on the road. This is not about convenience, it’s about our children’s safety.”
Xanthis said the district was scheduled to meet with the family on Nov. 15 to discuss the matter. Petrarca said the family simply wants the stop to go back to its previous location. “This dog has already proven it can breach the system and reach three adults,” she told the board. “What would happen if it reached one of our children?”
During his report to the board during last week’s meeting, Interim School Business Official Brad Conklin said the district is working to smooth out issues with bus delays. Orange County Transit has been dealing with driver shortages, and has been advertising locally for open bus driver positions in Valley Central, Montgomery and Wallkill.
“We’re still working through some transportation issues, particularly around some late buses getting to the elementary schools in the afternoon,” Conklin told the board. “We’re going to be adding a middle school bus to help out East Coldenham. The bus company is still working through some shortages on the drivers’ side of things, but they’ve got some drivers coming out of training, so it looks like that will be started either just before or after Thanksgiving.” The district is also adding a fourth bus to the post-session route at the high school in the near future.