There were five presentations to the Sullivan West Board of Education at its November 14 meeting. Four described successful projects. The fifth described a work in progress, so far unsuccessful. But the night really belonged to the success stories: the peer tutoring lab; the pre-K program; the elementary school roof replacement; and the Sullivan West Enrollment/Facilities Study (reviewed at the public forum immediately preceding the board meeting).
Realtor John Hector, contracted by the board to sell the now unused Narrowsburg Central School (NCS) building and grounds, discussed the disposition of that work in progress. The newest development is the decision by the Town of Tusten to conduct a straw poll of its residents, to gauge public support for a bond proposition that would enable the town to purchase the NCS building and grounds. Hector continues to stay in touch with The Solution Project, whose two offers to date have both been rejected by the school board; still interested in the purchase, the group is actively seeking necessary capital. Hector has also contacted several developers responsible for successful commercial building renovations in the local area, including the Hawley Silk Mill and the former Sullivan’s Department Store in Liberty.
Questioned by board members about marketing strategies, Hector said that he has recently become aware of a realty website, Loopnet.com, with a particularly broad audience. Billing itself as number one in commercial real estate online, the cost of a subscription to the site is $70 per month. Board members asked specifically if he had advertised in the New York metro area. Citing the prohibitive cost of advertising in metro area papers, Hector asked the board if it would be willing to front any advertising costs incurred. He was then asked by the board if he had as yet taken advantage of the free advertising available to sellers on craigslist.com. He had not. The board reiterated that it considered the affluent New York metro area a market that should be tapped.
Sue Gorzynski, Peer Tutoring Lab coordinator, let the program’s participants speak for themselves. Students who had participated in both tutor and learner roles spoke in glowing terms of the dramatic and positive impact the program has had on student life. All of the speakers emphasized that the program’s most positive result, in addition to improved grades, was “a change in student attitude that makes learning, well, fun.”
Elementary Principal Rod McLaughlin reviewed the results of a longitudinal study of former pre-K student achievement on New York State English Language Assessment exams. The results demonstrated unequivocally that the pre-K program has been an early intervention success story. Available from its inception only to the neediest learners, who were initially identified by screening, the program tracked those learners as they started pre-K in the bottom tenth of their respective classes and saw them become evenly distributed throughout their classes by grade 6.
It was also reported that the elementary school slate roof replacement has been completed. One of the most visible and iconic of Jeffersonville’s public buildings has been restored to its original beauty. And it was accomplished in an eco-friendly manner. The bulk of the slate removed from the old roof was salvaged by the contractor for repurposing.
The last of the good news was conveyed at the public forum held prior to the board meeting. Dr. Nancy Hackett presented a comparison of projected enrollments with existing district facilities that shows the district’s facilities well equipped to handle projected enrollments through 2019.