We are a month beyond this year’s school board and budget
votes, on the eve of yet another high school graduation at our
beloved Onteora. The time is right for both looking back and
looking forward, for seeing what we bring with us and what we’re
The outgoing board will preside over the upcoming festivities,
marshalling the community’s pride for its graduating seniors.
The community should also make sure that these three, Board
President MaryJane Bernholz, Vice President Cindy O’Connor,
and former VP Rita Vanacore, be celebrated for the hard work
and dedication they have given Onteora as board members over
the past three years, as well as concerned and active parents
and committee members for the entirety of their adult lives
in the district.
After ensuring the disappearance of the Large Parcel issue that
so disrupted Onteora peacefulness, at least for the time being,
Bernolz, O’Connor and Vanacore worked hard to ensure careful
fine-tuning of a mass of school policies, including a line-by
line- budget paring approach the incoming board will have to
work hard to match. They hired a new superintendent and raised
key questions about the district’s future, both financial
Their only points of downfall may have been the result of overreaching,
in terms of their unpopular redistricting plan to create a new
5-8 Middle School that necessitated the closing of at least
one more elementary school. As well as of a difficulty communicating
their concerns, and overall agenda, beyond the scope of the
immediate school district and its community.
The incoming board members also deserve a warm welcome…
they arrive with great intentions, openness, a great sense of
caring for the district, and an enthusiasm that most be applauded.
Furthermore, their instincts seem in the right place…
to approach the current shifts in the economy carefully, without
big changes. To search out new ways of reaching out to ALL of
the wide Onteora community. And to look for the sorts of alternatives
to what other places do that matches the alternatives our local
towns and other organizations have tried in this area for decades.
While we’re at it, we should also send out kudos to District
Superintendent Leslie Ford and District Business Administrator
Victoria MacLaren for their recent contract extensions. Our
gut feeling is that it’s a good time to accentuate the
solid elements of Onteora for the moment, and work with what
we know for a while until we get fully past the wild swings
of change that have marked the district’s last decade.
The only change we ask is that, from here on in, we take it
for granted that everyone involved in our schools respect we,
the people, the “Onteora stakeholders,” as a thoughtful,
involved citizenry that should never be pandered to with token
smiles. We ain’t that… sorry. From here on in, let’s
show all around us, including the national body politic, what
real “straight talk” and meaningful, well-conceived
change is all about.
Let’s look at the upcoming ceremonies as a needed graduation
for ALL of us.