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The three elementary schools in the Hendrick Hudson School District will be reconfigured once again for the 2024-25 school year.
In early December, the Board of Education voted 5-2 to change the Princeton Plan structure in the primary-level buildings.
“We all are here because we want something better,” said board President Alexis Bernard. “We need to do something to make it better.”
Two years ago, the Board of Education voted to implement the Princeton Plan after much community debate. The move was made as district officials grappled with ways to deal with the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan and the $25 million annually Hendrick Hudson would be losing in revenue. For years, Indian Point supplied funding for nearly one-third of the district’s operating budget.
The 2022-23 school year kicked off the district’s first endeavor with the Princeton Plan, where its three elementary school buildings were realigned to house grades pre-K-1 (Frank G. Lindsey), 2-3 (Buchanan-Verplanck) and 4-5 (Furnace Woods), rather than the K-5 arrangement at all three schools that had been in place prior.
However, the Princeton Plan came under scrutiny from some parents who say it failed to save the district money as promised, offered no academic benefits and created transportation problems where some students are riding the bus for up to 40 minutes.
With the changes made by the board Dec. 6 to the district’s policy regarding School Attendance Areas, Buchanan-Verplanck and Furnace Woods elementary schools will both serve kindergarten through second-grade students, while Frank G. Lindsey will be dedicated to third- through fifth-graders.
Buchanan-Verplanck will have students who reside west of Route 9 in the area in and about Montrose Station Road. Furnace Woods will serve students residing east of Route 9.
Decisions regarding bus routes have yet to be finalized.
Board Vice President Erica Mills said it was time for the district to move forward.
“This has been a struggle. We’re not taking this lightly,” Mills said. “We all understand the potential issues and risks, but we do see the opportunities and potential. We have to do what we think will be best and make it best.”
Trustees Amelia Silverman and Tomica Dietrich tried to postpone the vote. When that failed, they were the only board members to oppose the change in the policy.
Silverman contended realigning the schools was detrimental to the morale of faculty and mental health of students, teachers and families.
“The board is dividing the town,” Silverman said.
Dietrich said the district would unnecessarily be spending about $750,000 to make the changes required to realign the schools and maintained there would be “a regression to all the programs we have started.”
“We have many important and pressing issues to tackle,” Dietrich said. “We should be focused on the here and the now and what our kids need. We can do it in the current model without having to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of unanswered questions that we need answers to.”
Rick has more than 40 years’ experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, running the gamut from politics and crime to sports and human interest. He has been an editor at Examiner Media since 2012. Read more from Rick’s editor-author bio here. Read Rick’s work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/pezzullo_rick-writer/