Not counting private schools, children in Philipstown predominently attend either Haldane, Garrison, or Highland/Montgomery, with a smattering in Fishkill and Wappingers. Each school district has the same hierarchic organization: school board, superintendent, director of operations, business agent, principals, assistant principals, teachers, teacher aides, custodial and other staff and students. Each has its own calendar that includes the state mandated 180-days of student instruction, holidays, vacations, breaks, superintendents days and snow days. Each manages its own transportation system. Each raises the majority of its annual budget from a tax levy on district resident’s property. Each is dealing with a poor economy and delayed/reduced state aide. Each must follow the rules and regulations of NY state.
In all the ways that they are the same they are also different. Each has a different mechanism for creating the annual budget. Each determines what days count or do not count in the mandatory 180. Each decides when winter break will begin and when classes will resume. Each schedules its own bus runs although there is collaboration between districts. Each decides how much information will be made public or not and how easy it is to access. It’s like four puzzle boxes each with the same pieces, but which create four different pictures when the pieces are assembled.
With our Schools section of Philipstown.info we would like to create a new puzzle picture comprised of all the pieces from all the schools. We will explore those differences and similarities and seek out the common and uncommon stories behind them. We will cover issues of immediacy such as the proposed housing development in Fishkill which threatens to inundate Haldane with potentially over 100 new students. We will cover annual events such as the budget process, which occupies school boards for nearly half of each school year. We will explore the pro’s and con’s of each district’s approach in the context of the individual districts, between districts and within the county and state.
Philipstown.info requests your help and encourages your feedback. If you have ideas and suggestions for these stories or if you think you would like to contribute, please contact us at: [email protected].