This week in the Villages: Happy Independence Day! We start with a look at the recent upheaval, including three high-profile resignations, at the Nyack school district. Plus, more news, your weekly weather prediction, Covid updates, upcoming meetings and much more!
What’s Going at Nyack Schools?
Happy 4th of July Weekend Everyone!
While we hope everyone is enjoying time with family and friends this Independence Day, it’s clearly past time we asked: what’s going on in the Nyack school district?
Let’s start with a brief recap of the recent upheaval.
On June 8, Nyack Superintendent Eudes Budhai announced the resignation of Upper Nyack Elementary School Principal Melissa Pittman, less than one year into the job. Without offering details about why she was leaving, Budhai thanked Pittman for attempting to bring “some semblance of normalcy” back to school during the pandemic.
On June 27, LoHud highlighted the story of Jerell Jones, the Nyack High School head football coach and teacher who said he resigned after being falsely accused of using harsh language, including the N-word, with his players. Jones was officially reprimanded for the language in a move he believed was racially motivated. Before resigning, Jones said Budhai empathized his situation but told him he couldn’t do anything about it. (The district said it “disagreed” with Jones’ version of events without offering any specifics.)
On June 30, the Nyack School Board released a statement saying Budhai — who, just last summer, had signed a four-year contract worth $265,000 annually and been lauded for his equity and inclusion focus — and the board “have mutually agreed to separate,” effective immediately.
(While the board “explores next steps”, Lizzette Ruiz-Giovinazzi, the district’s assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, will become acting superintendent.)
Now, we won’t pretend to have any definitive answers here, but if you look at the series of events encapsulated above, it’s clear something is going on.
For now, we’ll let the facts mostly speak for themselves.
But, suffice to say, it’s extremely hard to see the resignations of three people of color in high-profile leadership positions leaving the district in the span of a few months as something other than a wild coincidence.
The question remains: what’s going on in the Nyack school district?
Stay tuned . . .
Quote of the Week
In Other Relevant News
- The state is looking for hazardous trees on Palisades Parkway after a falling tree on the parkway recently killed a beloved West Haverstraw deli owner. [LoHud]
- Ramapo police are investigating antisemitic vandalism at a Monsey synagogue. [LoHud]
- Meet an unlikely pair of enterprising digital marketing entrepreneurs making it in Nyack. [RBJ]
- Local stuff to do on Independence Day. [LoHud]
- ICYMI: The former head coach of the Nyack High School football team, who quietly resigned in March, is now speaking out about what he considered racist disciplinary steps taken by the school last fall. [LoHud] Robert Berliner, a state supreme court judge who oversees Rockland County, agreed to retire last week rather than respond to charges that he improperly engaged in political activity — a big no-no for judges — brought by the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. [RCBJ]
- ICYM Our Stuff: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”, Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in last week’s “The Villages”.
While Independence Day should be pretty much idyllic — sunny, mid-80s — the rest of the week will be a decidedly mixed bag. Skies should clear for the upcoming weekend. [National Weather Service]
Severe cases and hospitalizations in the greater Nyack area remain relatively low. As of June 30, the CDC is classifying Rockland County at a “low” Covid threat level.
- The county is reporting 1.92 gross hospitalization per 100,000 people (up from 1.53 last week).
- Hospital capacity is not threatened.
- A total of 13 people (down from 14 last week) in Rockland county were hospitalized for Covid related issues; 5 out of 13 of those patients were symptomatic.
- No new deaths added over the past week(!); Rockland’s Covid-related death total is now 1,189.
- To find out what case and hospitalization trends look like in your town, click here.
- Here’s the CDC’s data on Rockland.
- Get free at-home Covid tests sent to your home, visit Covidtest.gov. Or pick them up at Village Hall in Nyack, Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
- More than 81.4% of eligible people in Rockland County are vaccinated with at least one dose. To schedule an appointment for a 1st dose, 3rd dose (for immunocompromised), or booster COVID-19 vaccine from any Rockland County Department of Health Clinic visit rocklandgov.com/departments/health/. To search for additional COVID-19 vaccination opportunities nearby visit vaccines.gov.
- Find a COVID-19 testing site near you, by visiting coronavirus.health.ny.gov. Individuals who have questions regarding eligibility or access for testing should call the New York State COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-364-3065 or visit the NYSDOH website covid19screening.health.ny.gov.
- The budget workshops are all wrapped up. If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the second draft of Nyack’s Appropriations budget (what they plan to spend). And the second draft of their Revenue budget (how they make their money). Not clear how or if it all those numbers have changed, but we’ll keep you updated. As of now, the budget is $6,055,600.91 coming in and going out 2022-2023.
- Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (, including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).
- Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
- Click here for updates from the Village of Upper Nyack.
- Check out the draft chapters of Orangetown’s new 2022 Comprehensive Plan.
- ICYMI: Here’s the official resolution Orangetown enacted with regards to the sale of two South Nyack properties, which appears to say the proceeds will go toward wiping out South Nyack’s debt, which is what South Nyack officials were lobbying for as the dissolution date approached.
- Help limit greenhouse gasses and curb pollution by joining this new food scraps recycling program.
- Check out the Orangetown YouTube channel, and this video of a recent special town board meeting, which included renderings of a new town hall.
- The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including Wednesday July 6, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
- For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.
Other Local Updates
South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.
- Let your voice be heard about Nyack public schools by filling out this “Community Pulse” survey.
- Applications are now being accepted for universal pre-K and full-day kindergarten.
- Masks are currently optional for all students and staff in all Nyack district schools.
- Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (nyackschools.org)
- The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
- Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.
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