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Sullivan West Board of Education asked to reconsider sale of Narrowsburg School

By Linda Drollinger
July 11, 2014

No sooner had the Sullivan West School District Board of Education convened its July 10 reorganization meeting, sworn in its newly elected and re-elected members (Mary Scheutzow, Kathleen Meckle and Trevor Peachey), elected and sworn in a president and vice president (Scheutzow and Rose Joyce-Turner, respectively) than it was confronted by over 100 representatives of the newly-formed Narrowsburg Organization for Responsible School Use (NORSU).

Describing themselves as “organized, angry and determined,” several NORSU members addressed the board, asking that it commit to reconsider its decision to sell the unused Narrowsburg School building and grounds to high bidder Joan Buto, for use as a substance abuse rehabilitation facility.

Scheutzow invited public comment at the outset of the regular meeting, but warned that the board would not engage in dialogue at this time.

Charging that the bid process had lacked transparency and alleging that winning bidders Joan and Robert Buto were neither legitimate nor responsible business people, the organization’s spokespersons informed the board that it had already retained an attorney and would seek legal action to prevent the school sale from going forward. NORSU threatened to undo the sale agreement by whatever means necessary, including initiation of lawsuits, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests pertaining to the bid process, unseating of school board incumbents, and the creation of zoning laws designed to prevent establishment of a rehabilitation facility in the heart of the town’s commercial district.

More than one NORSU representative, second-highest bidder Brendan Weiden among them, asked the board to pass a resolution to revisit its decision. The same request was made of the board during the public comment segment at the meeting’s conclusion. Scheutzow responded that the board could take no action on the request until it had conferred with the school district’s attorney.

Board member Joan Glase, sympathetic to NORSU’s objectives, claimed that the board had no recourse but to go forward with the sale. However, she urged the town of Tusten to use all means at its disposal to prevent execution of the sale agreement.

For complete meeting minutes, see www.swcsd.org/district.cfm?subpage=279812.