Choices are finalized

Greenwood Lake students select their high school for this fall, with 73 percent choosing George F. Baker

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­— After months of community meetings filled with strife, Greenwood Lake eighth-grade students have made their selections of what high schools to attend this September, with George F. Baker High School in Tuxedo overwhelmingly being the top choice.

Numbers released by the Greenwood Lake School District on Jan. 18 show that 48 of 66 Greenwood Lake eighth-graders, or 73 percent, selected Baker as their high school of choice for the forthcoming school year.

Eleven of those 66 students, or 17 percent, selected Warwick Valley High School.

Seven of those 66 students, or 11 percent, selected the Chester Academy.

Separately, there are five Greenwood Lake students in the ninth through 11th grades currently attending Baker who are transferring to Warwick next September, according to Greenwood Lake School District Superintendent Dr. Richard Brockel.

“It’s tough to speculate why they (the numbers) came out they way they did,” said Brockel. “You can guess Tuxedo got more students because of the familiarity factor and the history. That’s really all I can say. The three high schools are all quality high schools. If I would pinpoint anything, it would the familiarity and tradition.”

Brockel said the majority of student choices came in prior to the Jan. 17 deadline and felt Tuxedo’s recent announcement about plans of possibly creating a STEM academy, an international high school and/or a conversion charter school didn’t influence their decisions.

‘Sigh of relief’

Regardless, Tuxedo officials were pleased with the numbers.

“My district is very happy, we’re breathing a sigh of relief,” said Tuxedo School District Superintendent Carol Lomascolo. “This speaks so high of the Greenwood Lake community and the confidence they have in us.

“I’m getting a lot of thank yous, but really it’s the Greenwood Lake community, the Tuxedo community, the PCG consultant, they all came together,” she added. “ I’m looking forward to a bright future.”

As the timeframe for selection took place, Lomascolo always remained hopeful that Greenwood Lake students would select Baker. With 80 percent of Greenwood Lake students going to Baker, Lomascolo had felt the school was essentially Greenwood Lake’s own high school. Students have attended that school for approximately 30 years.

“These numbers are about what I thought we would get,” Lomascolo said. “I welcome them next year. I think we have a great direction to go in. I think we have an opportunity to build not only a great high school, but an exceptional high school, with the recommendations given to us. Now, we move ahead with community and board input.”

At its Feb. 21 meeting, the Tuxedo board is expected to begin discussions on which option or options to select. Lomascolo felt if the district does proceed with the launch of a STEM academy for this September, a decision would need made “sooner rather than later.”

22-month contract

In the meantime, the decision - in tandem with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement of state aid figures this past Tuesday – allows the four districts to begin finalizing their 2013-2014 budgets.

Brockel said preliminary talks need to begin again with the districts soon, since the contract is only for a 22-month period and only takes those Greenwood Lake eighth-graders up to their second year of a high school education.

Still, Brockel is pleased to have the choice model implemented in Greenwood Lake.

“I’m happy because originally I believed ‘choice’ was the best possible option,” Brockel added. “Some of the difficulties arose because we were continuing to negotiate with Tuxedo. Had Tuxedo gotten those numbers to us early on, we wouldn’t have been in the position we were in.”

By Nancy Kriz

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