WV school community mourns a loss

District provides crisis team to help students, teachers and staff with grieving process

By Abby Wolf

— The Warwick Valley School Board opened its regular meeting on a somber note with a moment of silence on Monday night to honor the memory of a student at the high school who passed away suddenly on Jan. 6.

“This tragic loss” of Allison Kidney, a sophomore, “is sure to raise many emotions, concerns and questions for our entire school district, especially our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. David Leach, in a statement.

Leach added, “The family has requested privacy in this time of mourning.”

He offered the district’s condolences to Allison’s family “at this very difficult time.”

Leach said further: “On Sunday, the District Crisis Intervention Team, comprised of District leaders and counselors, met to plan crisis support services for our students and faculty/staff.”

He continued: “(On Monday) counselors from the Orange County Emergency Response Team, made up of professionals trained to help with the needs of students and school personnel at difficult times such as this, were at the high school to provide support and grief counseling.

“Our Warwick Valley High School counselors and psychologists were also available for any student who may need or want help, or any type of assistance, surrounding this loss. We also encourage parents to feel free to use our resources.”

Coach Denis O’Connor said, “Allison was a great teammate on the Warwick girls JV and Varsity lacrosse teams.”

“She was accepted and encouraged by her teammates and, as goalie, was instrumental in the Varsity team’s Section 9, Class B championship.”

Leach encouraged families and members of the community to go to the WVCSD webpage for additional resources to help their children cope:

Administration eyes governor’s budgetWhile Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his eighth annual “State of the State” last week, the school district awaits details on his proposals when he releases his proposed budget for 2018-19 on or around Jan. 16.

“We must continue our historic investment in public education and expand three and four-year-old pre-K and after school and computer sciences because our greatest asset is our young people and everything we do is for their future,” Cuomo said in his State of the State message. “We must address education funding inequities and dedicate more of our state school aid to poorer districts. This year, we should even take it a step further and make sure that the local education districts that we’re giving the grants to are distributing the aid to their poorer schools because that’s the point. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work, nor does trickle-down education funding. Local districts must give more funding to their poorer schools, period. That’s only right. And that’s only fair. “

Leach said close to 30 percent of the district’s revenue comes from state aid.

“However, our elected officials in Albany must find ways to cut the unfunded and underfunded mandates that help make New York one of the most taxed states in the nation,” Leach added. “Some purport that New York State school districts are forced to spend close to 20 percent of their annual budgets on unfunded mandates.”

In addition, Leach said, “Every time the state enacts a new mandated program, it’s often left up to school districts to find a way to pay for the new program.”

Leach noted that the district has “been fortunate to increase (its) revenue from non-tax sources in recent years to about $3.3 million.”

However, he added: “this income has been needed to keep pace with the unfunded mandate requirements that have accumulated over decades and are woven throughout” New York state laws.”

Property taxesAgain, from Governor Cuomo’s speech: “We must continue to attack the highest tax burden in the state. Not a state tax, but the cost of local government. Our local property tax. Railed against by FDR, repeatedly. Who actually prophesized the growing local property tax was going to be a major economic problem for the state. And it is. Property taxes now are nearly three times what the state income tax is. Our property taxes have long been an obstacle to growth but today, the federal SALT provision, it is an economic cancer. Property taxes have just been raised by the federal tax plan 20 to 25 percent. It will be an unbearable financial burden for many. Look at the response already. Last week we announced an emergency executive order on Long Island allowing people to prepay their property taxes. Thousands and thousands of New Yorkers stood on lines for hours in frigid temperatures to prepay next year’s property taxes so they could get the deduction. All across the state. That’s the level of fear, that people would go to that extent.”

Leach said at Monday’s meeting that “Unfortunately, the Governor’s Executive Order did not affect 2018-29 school year taxes and was not intended to do so. Next school year’s taxes will not be determined, and cannot be presented to the public, until more than 30 days after the budget vote on the third Tuesday in May 2018. That restriction is specifically written into law at Section 1318(2) of the Real Property Tax Law.”

High school offers AP classesAccording to Superintendent Leach, 91 college credits are offered at the high school through its “growing list” of honors and college classes. Thirteen Advanced Placement (AP) courses are taught at Warwick Valley High School. Leach added that the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and SUNY Orange offer a total of 17 courses.

Among the offerings:


• English Literature

• Government and Politics

• Biology

• Chemistry

• Environmental Science

• Calculus

University at Albany (SUNY)

• University Spanish 1

• University Spanish 2

• University Spanish 3

• Science Research


• Introduction to Engineering

• Introduction to Computer Science

• Civil Engineering and Architecture

• Principles of Biomedical Engineering

SUNY Orange

• Calculus 1

• College Algebra

• College Trigonometry

• Mandarin Chinese 4 & 5

While there is no charge for AP classes, there is an $87 fee for the AP final exam, which may be waived or reduced for eligible students.

Cosmetology salon grand openingWildcuts Salon, the high school’s new cosmetology classroom, will celebrate its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting on Jan. 17, at 11:35 am. and will offer “haircuts, manicures, makeup and other services.”

The high school now offers Cosmetology as part of its expanding Career and Technical Education (CTE) program.

The CTE program also includes criminal justice and video production – classes that previously were only available at OU-BOCES in Goshen. This provides students the ability to stay on-campus at the high school and “take advantage of other opportunities,” according to Leach.

Middle school looking for SROThe Warwick Police Department is interviewing police officers who are interested in the School Resource Officer position at the middle school; the school will complete the interview process by mid-January.

Next Work session: Special Education and budget update – Jan. 29, 7 p.m., at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center.

Regular meeting: Feb. 12, 7 p.m., at the Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center.

Work session: Comprehensive school plans – elementary and budget update, Feb. 26, 7 p.m., at Sanfordville Elementary School

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