Letter to the Editor: Onteora - Not the time for change

Dear Editor,

 It’s springtime and once again the season to select school board candidates
 who will best represent the children and taxpayers of the Onteora School
 District.  The current school board has made some big changes with the
 reconfiguration of our school district. At first I was apprehensive about
 the reconfiguration, and thought it best to close a school to solve our
 fiscal challenges, but closer examination of the plan has changed my
 thoughts considerably.

 In the fall we will have a new configuration plan with grades K-3 in
 Woodstock and Phoenicia and grades 4-6 at Bennett in Boiceville. This plan
 presents exciting new educational opportunities for students as well as
 cost-saving flexibility in staffing and curriculum for the administration.
 It is a plan that will move Onteora forward towards its goal of academic
 excellence and fiscal responsibility. The decision to reconfigure was based
 not only on the recommendations of our superintendent and other educational
 professionals, but also on research and extensive input from the public.  It
 was a complex decision that none of the board members took lightly.  Nearly
 every Onteora school board in the last twenty years has considered a
 reconfiguration plan, so I must commend the current board for demonstrating
 the leadership and political will necessary to further advance the
 district’s educational and fiscal goals.

 Laurie Osmond and Tony Fletcher are the incumbents running for
 re-election.  They have served our district well by keeping taxes low and
 the education of the district’s children squarely at the center of their
 attention.  Onteora faces upcoming contract negotiation, a 2 percent budget
 cap, increased state and federal mandates and ongoing infrastructure
 needs. These challenges require experienced board members with demonstrated
 dedication to solving complex problems.

 The Onteora School District has seen too many contentious issues divide us
 in the last decade. Now is NOT the time for a change in the direction of the
 school board. Now is the time for stability and cohesiveness. Now is the
 time for experience and accountability.  Now is the time for the leadership
 and courage so clearly demonstrated by our current board. Let’s re-elect
 Laurie Osmond and Tony Fletcher to the Onteora School Board. Please give
 them your vote on Tuesday, May 15th from 2pm to 9pm at your local elementary
 Jim Sofranko

 West Shokan, NY