by Dave Zornow
Nyack, Sept 1 — Nyack Schools has set aside $300,000 for the current school year to end the open campus program for freshman and sophomore students. Part of those funds will be used to support a pilot program in September and October to revoke off campus lunch privileges for 9th and 10th graders. Nyack’s Board of Education will decide in November whether to make the test program permanent.
The funds will cover adding ten additional security cameras to the 24 already in place and the hiring of up to eight more security staff.
“We are trying to provide a safe educational environment for our kids,” says Nyack Schools Board of Education President Michael Lagana. “The sentiment of the board is that people are concerned about the safety issue. When kids leave leave the campus they aren’t accountable,” he said.
Parents and taxpayers say that’s too much to spend for non-academic purposes. Valley Cottage parent Rick Tannenbaum says Nyack is spending money in the wrong places, citing the new tennis courts at the high school and the $1,200 per day paid to a temporary superintendent. “If the two-month pilot program to police our high school students becomes policy, it will permanently increase our staffing expenses and budgetary needs — all done without regard for improved academics or student achievement,” he says.
Lagana says the pilot program is a work in progress and High School Principal Joe Spero will make adjustments as required. “Over time, if we are able to reevaluate and make changes, we will try to reduce the costs,” he says.
Nyack resident Roger Cohen doubts that camera are a viable solution. “Security cameras never work properly. If they are being used for real time enforcement, they require someone full time to watch those cameras.” Cohen says underclassmen should be confined to campus unless they have written permission to leave. “Freshman and sophomore students shouldn’t be allowed to leave the school grounds without a special pass. No pass, no departure.” Cohen says no additional security cameras would be required and fewer new staff would need to be hired.
“Just think for a moment, think what $300,000 could actually do positively for our school district,” says Upper Nyack parent Mark Hussey. “If the move toward a closed campus had been achieved gradually, following the recommendations that were outlined by the HS Principal at the July 6 meeting, much of this cost have been avoided.” Hussey says the board is missing an opportunity to gather meaningful statistics about the 9th grade’s experience.
The first day of school for Nyack students is September 7.