Editor’s Freak Out:
How Frickin’Stupid! RCS Schools Announced Early Closing on February 8, Due to the Forecast Blizzard. Early closing at 10 a.m.! WTF?!?!?! What frickin’ sense does it make to inconvenience half the community to get the kids out the door and then they’re released at 10 a.m.?! What are the overheads involved in opening the school, transporting the students round-trip, etc. etc. Has someone lost his/her mind?
The Local Rag, the Ravena News Herald, Reports on Every Kind of Rubbish Conceivable, and Dedicates an Inordinate Amount of Space to Sports, Whatnot Wannabe Essayists, and Plenty of Legal Notices—But…
This RCS Central School District voted on a more than $42 million school budget for 2012-13 and is currently debating the next school budget for 2013-14. This is all money that comes in the form of school taxes paid by a minority of residents, the property owners. But a great many of the property owners in the RCS Central School District don’t have children going to the schools, and an even greater number of non-property owners, mostly lowere socio-economic class, don’t pay taxes much less school taxes.
Many persons own property but don’t live in the district and so they don’t get to vote on the school budget but they do have to pay the tax, and the non-property owners, non-school tax payers get to vote on the budget and benefit from the fund that they don’t contribute to. That’s real fair, don’t you think?
The information on what the RCS Central School District administration is doing and what the RCS board of education is deliberating usually appears only as the latest scandal in the Albany Times Union or in the local rag, the Ravena News Herald, neither of which can claim much fame for factual reporting. So how does anyone get the information on what the RCS school district is doing with all that money?
Well, the RCS Central School District has a website that publishes some material about what’s going on but the information is usually slanted and written by who-knows-who. Besides, the district for all its self-praise about the quality of its techology teaching and resources doesn’t even put the site up or organize it. That’s done by some character that comes in a couple of times a week from BOCES.
There is a significant problem in the area when it comes to news about what’s going on in the school district. There are a couple of ways to keep up with the events but you have to have time and computer savvy. They include:
- The bi-weekly board of education meetings but do you know where to find the dates of those meetings? But there’s a problem here, too. There seems to be no coordination or communication between the village of Ravena, the town of Coeymans, and the board of education when meetings are to be held and whether they conflict. This means that you’ll very often find the RCS board of education meeting at the same time the village of Ravena or the town of Coeymans board is meeting. You’ll have to miss one to attend the other. Typical poor communications, though, for RCS. Now that the Coeymanazis have gone underground and can’t put on public displays of stupidity, they are not attending the board meetings. That’s a good thing. But the people they disgusted and intimidated, or scared away previously are only slowly returning.
- The RCS CSD website but you need to know how to use a computer and how to navigate around the website to find what you want. I’m pretty good on the Internet but I find the RCS CSD web site a real mess when it comes to finding anything. So if you’re not addicted to your computer you’ll probably not be able to find the information you need.
- The published RCS CSD board of education meeting agendas–totally useless. They tell you only in cryptic language what they intend to discuss and, again, you have to be a computer wizard to find any of the past meetings minutes. Forget it.
- The public television broadcasts or replays of the meetings? When? Who knows? Not very often on the night of the meeting and certainly not a high priority item in terms of the cable service providers. It’s pot luck to get lucky and find the board of education meeting on a public access channel.
- “But,” you might say, “what’s in the local newspapers? Isn’t that the place you’d find news about the schools and the board of education.” Any place else and I’d answer, “Yes!” But not in RCS. If it’s not a scandal or they can’t tear something or someone apart, the Times Union isn’t interested. The Ravena News Herald publishes pages of athetics, someone’s kid’s picayune accomplishment, and school lunch menus. The police blotter reports more about the Keystone antics of the Coeymans Bo-Bo cops than the Ravena News Herald does about the school district.
So, what do we recommend? You might well ask. We suggest that the superintendent of Schools, Dr Alan McCartney, publish a weekly report on what’s going on in the RCS schools. The report can be along the lines of the Supervisor’s Report that appears in the paper. Here are some possible topics:
- How budget money is being spent
- What new money has been found or reallocated
- What new areas of savings are being examined
- What the schools are doing in terms of safety issues, bullying, accidents, etc.
- Evaluations of teachers and performances
- What’s being done to ensure academic excellence
- Grievances and complaints and how to file and ensure they’re handled properly
- Student and parent care initiatives along the lines of customer service models
- Quality assurance in the schools
- A report on the actions taken on the RCS CSD board of education
- Other, relevant subjects
This column would then be published in the Ravena News Herald as a public service.
This is only a bare-bones suggestion but it would certainly better inform the taxpaying public about what’s going on in the school district because we believe more people with have access to the local weekly newspaper. The Ravena News Herald would certainly be able to cover the cost by the reasonably expectable increase in readership because of the availability of this important information and it may open new opportunities for new advertisers who want to target that new class of readers. Well managed and planned, it would be a win-win situation for everyone concerned and it would ensure that people with a definite interest would have access to information important to them. Word of mouth and gossip simply is not working.