Nyack Public Schools Board of Education voted to send a $26.7 million bond referendum to district voters Oct. 29.Last week, the
The board voted unanimously to amend that referendum during a meeting Tuesday at the Nyack Center, removing the $300,000 earmarked for the building of a circular driveway at Upper Nyack Elementary School.
The proposal had met with mixed public reaction, with some claiming that they would prefer to keep the green space in front of the school while others felt the current drop-off and pick-up arrangements are unsafe.
Robert Gross of Upper Nyack and his son, Robert, both spoke against the proposed change before the vote.
"I went to Upper Nyack for seven years," Ryan Gross said. "The front space always served many purposes to kids. When we got out of school, it was somewhere to play, to get out the energy from sitting all day. You talk about wanting kids to bond. It's a great space to do that."
Nyack School Board Trustee Dan Juechter read a prepared statement regarding the removal of the item from the referendum, part of which was to state his support for the change. He said that it was not part of the recommendation from the infrastructure sub-committee's proposal, but rather something that came out of discussions regarding concerns about student safety at Upper Nyack Elementary.
"I think it is important to recognize that there are Upper Nyack Elementary community members who are deeply concerned about the safety of Upper Nyack Elementary School students during drop-off and pickup as it is currently configured, and I would urge these community members and the ones who have taken the time to speak out at board meetings and email their opposition to the proposal we are about to vote on removing to reach out to each other and over time, work together to find a compromise solution between those who see a safety issue and those who view this as an unnecessary destruction of beautiful and vital green space," Juechter said.
"I'm sure there are those in the community, who have another agenda, who would characterize removing the Upper Nyack Elementary School drop-off and pickup change from the bond referendum another way, as perhaps some kind of acquiescence to public pressure or to score political points. To them and to the community at large, I would say that it is a mischaracterization. It is my fervent opinion that the board is simply making decisions that it feels are in the absolute best interests of our students and our community."
Juechter also said that the board functions well and appreciates feedback from the community. Board Vice President Karen Hughes said she thought that it was important to revisit the safety concerns regarding Upper Nyack Elementary.
"I don't think it is something we can dismiss and say it won't be addressed," Hughes said.
Trustee Leann Irvin questioned the legality of changing the referendum, but attorney Ralph DeMarco said that was not an issue.
"It is the opinion of myself and bond counsel that the board may properly proceed and consider such a resolution to amend the previously adopted resolution of the board and proceed as scheduled with the bond vote scheduled for Oct. 29, 2013," DeMarco said.
District resident Rick Tannenbaum, who opposes the upgrades to the athletic fields at Nyack High School which are part of the referendum, asked if Tuesday's change also meant the board could still make further amendments, specifically breaking up the referendum. DeMarco said he has not researched that question.
The meeting was part of the first of three information sessions regarding the bond referendum, which was reduced to $26.4 million by Tuesday's vote. There will also be information sessions Oct. 2 and Oct. 16 at Nyack High School. Check back with Patch later for more on the information session and the ongoing public discussion of the bond referendum.