Warwick Valley Central School District honored retiring district teachers, plus a new cohort who made tenure, at its regular monthly meeting on June 2 – its first since voters approved the budget last month for the coming year. The administration also recognized outgoing long-time Board of Education members, Eilleen Gagliano and Denise Ginley, for their service to the district.
Remarking that these are “sad times” after recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, Schools Superintendent Dr. David Leach noted that the district has 14 security guards, security guard greeters at the middle school and a school resource officer at the high school. The officers, Leach said, “have a positive relationship with students,” despite initial pushback a few years ago.
Leach also reviewed safety protocols implemented in the last ten years. While he demurred on giving exact details for security reasons, Leach said that WV is “always looking to refine” its district safety plan, noting that security elements include the Raptor background security check for all visitors to district schools; double security doors with a keyless entry at Park Avenue Elementary; a vestibule and airlock with bulletproof glass inside the front door at the middle school; bulletproof glass at the high school and lockdown drills across the district.
A crisis team includes psychologists and counselors; AEDs are in every building; a video surveillance system with wireless cameras links to the Warwick police department – that “wasn’t in place 3-4 years ago,” Leach said.
He added that staff take mandatory safety training and that WPD members are in the school buildings, including school resource officers (SROs). Leach also said that the district, together with WPD, conducts active shooter drills. At upcoming work sessions, the board will study what the district is doing regarding safety, what works well, and where to improve.
Long-time BOE member says goodbye
Eilleen Gagliano read a statement asking her fellow board members to address student needs despite challenges - fiscal, health-related, social, political or otherwise. She cautioned them about those who falsely accuse K-8 schools of teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT) – which is only taught at the post-college/graduate level.
She advised them “to respond with more than a canned explanation as to why it isn’t taught and a description of what is being taught so that our students of color...our LGBTQ students...our female students...our Latino students are represented, respected, and inspired.”
Gagliano expressed concern for district students who are “transgender, non-binary, gay, queer and questioning. These are our students and they need to feel safe, nurtured, accepted and respected. That is not an ideology, that is a fact,” she said.
Gagliano expressed concern also about students struggling with stress and other mental health issues ”that make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning, much less pay attention in class.”
“These students need teachers who can teach honestly and compassionately without fear of judgement, scrutiny or retribution for doing their job,” she said. “We need to protect our teachers so they can do their best.”
As for safety and sense of safety, she said, “We have security protocols ranging from cameras to double door systems, strategic floor plans and added police in the buildings, yet our students can still feel unsafe in these buildings. Whether it’s a misinformed mob protesting at the entrances or a group of intolerant classmates in the hall, our buildings are not the refuge our students deserve. We can do better.”
Her comments were met with applause.
Outgoing board member Denise Ginley, who had decided not to run again, said that each board member “comes from very different perspectives,” but have found common ground. “We have to come together.”
NEXT: July 7 – Organizational meeting and regular meeting, 7 pm, Dorothy C. Wilson Education Center
“We have security protocols ranging from cameras to double door systems, strategic floor plans and added police in the buildings, yet our students can still feel unsafe in these buildings. Whether it’s a misinformed mob protesting at the entrances or a group of intolerant classmates in the hall, our buildings are not the refuge our students deserve. We can do better.”- Eilleen Gagliano