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Question of the Day: Thoughts on the New Board of Ed Members' Debut

Tuesday night was the official start for Grace Plourde and Joanne McEnroy on the Board of Education – what did you think of their first night on the board?

Two new Board of Education members were voted in on May 17 in Grace Plourde and Joanne McEnroy – and the pair made their debut in front of parents, community members, teachers and more Tuesday night.

What are your initial impressions of the newcomers?

Let us know in the comments.

Mark July 16, 2011 at 04:16 PM
To Concerned Mother: I am just curious as to the rationale for your comment, "If there is a re-vote the public school busing should be a separate issue from the private school." ? Please share your thoughts with us!
One Opinion July 16, 2011 at 04:59 PM
I would really hope they would not seperate the busing into two propositions. What purpose would that serve? Do you think it would be fair for one group to have busing and another group possibly loose busing?
parent July 17, 2011 at 07:11 PM
Nonpublic school families pay the same taxes as everyone else in Smithtown. I think there is a misconception out there that perhaps the school is spending more for the private school transportation. The private/parochial student population saves the district money that is spent on all levels in the public school system. All that the Smithtown Schools provide to the private schools are books and transportation. All children are entitled to transportation to school. And again, it is simply a matter of safety in today's world. RESIDENTS, if there is a revote, please come out and vote FOR TRANSPORTATION for ALL students. We are all equal, and we all fought for this revote!
Meg July 18, 2011 at 01:08 PM
My neighbor told me that Mr. Ehmann made an automated phone call to the parents of all public school students about the bus meeting tomorrow night. What about the rest of us? If we're not reading the Patch or the district website every day during the summer, how are we supposed to know? We pay our taxes too and have a right to the same information about BOE meetings as public school parents.
Lisa July 18, 2011 at 01:19 PM
People without children in the public schools pay taxes too. Also, what about parents of pre-schoolers? They have the right to know when the meeting is. I don't think Mr. Ehmann should be sending a selective invitation to such an important meeting.
Chris July 18, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Mr. Ehmann selectively called certain taxpayers to tell them about the 6/19 transportation meeting @ HSW. Is that fair? Everyone, with and without children in the schools, pays taxes and is entitled to the same public information. Is that even legal? I wonder if the BOE knew that he picks and chooses among taxpayers and what they plan to do about it.
Smithtowncitizen4Truth July 18, 2011 at 04:13 PM
It is illegal and unethical to pick and choose who receives public information about an important BOE meeting. It's up to the new BOE members to hold Mr. Ehmann accountable for this shameful behavior. Everyone who lives in the district should receive a call if calls are being made about an issue that affects everyone.
stjamesBri July 18, 2011 at 04:31 PM
ConcernedMother, if you truly are, you should be concerned about the safety of ALL the kids. Splitting the vote between public/private is a terrible idea. My kids go to St. James Elem and we are not affected by the transportation issue but I still attend the BoE meetings because this is the worst idea the board has had in a long time. Hopefully they've decided on a revote and the public will use its head and vote for ALL kids to get bussing. That's not how you save money.
sheryl wiener July 18, 2011 at 05:21 PM
To clarify this issue, Mr. Ehmann did not SELECT people to call and not call. The "robo" calls go out to people who signed up to receive calls. The purpose of this system is to let parents know about delayed openings, school closings, cancelled events. I guess they are just using the means at their disposal to notify as many people as possible about the meeting. It's better then nothing.
Just A Mom July 18, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Sheryl, People do not sign up for the automated phone calls. The district has a list of parents of public school students for the purpose you said. However, if it is being used to inform people of a public BOE meeting, it is most certainly NOT better than nothing because all parents of parochial, private, pre-schoolers, and post high school kids are excluded. The same public information should go to every taxpayer. The phone numbers of all taxpayers should be added to this system when the call is not about something pertaining solely to public school students.
Hal July 18, 2011 at 07:37 PM
If the district isn't going to mail every resident the information that pertains to all taxpayers then the phone numbers of everyone should be added to the robo call system. I am familiar with these systems and it would be the decision of Mr. Ehmann and the Technology Administrator on which lists were assembled and which he chose to call. I hope the BOE will not continue to allow the exclusion of the majority of voters from important public information.
One Opinion July 18, 2011 at 08:35 PM
The Special Meeting of the BOE this Tuesday is being held to provide specific information to the families of children who are effected by the new transportaion guidelines. They will be discussing which children are impacted, walking patterns and safety concerns. After the administration presents this information the Board of Ed will have the opportunity to vote on creating a new transportaion referendum if they choose. Anyone who was effected or cares about the transportaion guidelines should already be involved in the many meetings that have taken place. If a new vote is decided there will plenty of notice to the public. Why should every person be notified about a meeting that effects a small portion of children. If the BOE votes to put out a new transportaion referendum then it is the responsibilty of the school district to get the word out to every citizen that a special election will take place. With less than 10% of the population bothering to vote in a general school board election and only a few dozen people attending Board of Ed meetings, why should all this effort be made to notify people about a meeting that they don't care about anyway. Sad.
Hal July 18, 2011 at 09:47 PM
Because notifying everyone is the democratic way. We all pay taxes our taxes. My understanding from the voicemail was that the meeting was to discuss "the transportation referendum." I understood that it could be re-voted on. In that case, both pros and cons, and all interested parties should be informed of the meeting. Especially, parochial school parents whose kids are affected. It's not any effort when you're using an automated phone system if all the numbers have been properly programmed. Is it too much effort for Mr. Ehmann, the Supt., or for Mr. Nolan, the IT Admin. or for the techies who will have to program it? Ridiculous, and possibly illegal to pick and choose who you are going to inform about such an important meeting.
Rick July 18, 2011 at 09:51 PM
Mr. One Opinion, how do you know they don't care about it if they don't even know about it? What happened to the transparency that Mr. Gianino tried to bring to the BoE a few years ago. It's clearly dead and buried. Perhaps the new BoE members will try to restore it.
Vinod W. July 18, 2011 at 10:02 PM
Mr. Ehmann should have John Nolan, the IT admin. program the phone numbers of all private and parochial school parents, pre-school parents, and other residents who live in the district, and then those lists could be activated when there is a message that everyone should receive. Connect-Ed, the system the school district uses, will send phone messages to any lists the district programs into the system.
One Opinion July 18, 2011 at 10:20 PM
This transportation vote has been an issue for months. There have multiple articles in Newsday as well as all the local papers discussing this situation. The story has been televised on News12. This is not a nanny state. People need to be responsible for following issues that are important to them. I don't expect the federal, state or local goverments to send me a letter or phone call everytime there is a disussion regarding something that might effect me as a taxpayer. Honestly, at this point in the game if someone is unaware of what is happening with transportation they are not effect or don't care. That is obvious. In regard to the new BOE members. Don't count on them for transparancy. Ms Waldron has already demonstrated that she does not like to discuss things openly, ie committte assignments. Let's wait to see who this BOE chooses to as the representative of the negotiations committee. If people want to get their panties in a bunch about transparancy, take a look at how this BOE reponded when Mr Carlin asked for open discussion on contract negotiations.
One Opinion July 18, 2011 at 10:32 PM
Do you get regular notifications from your Senator, Congressman, Assemblymen, and Legislators regarding every federal, state, county and town issue? These people make decisions everyday that effect you as a taxpayer.
John July 18, 2011 at 11:23 PM
It may not be a "nanny state" One Opinion, but as long as some taxpayers are being notified then all taxpayers should be notified. I believe there are legal requirements for publicizing meetings and other issues, which I'm not at all sure the Administration and Board adhere to. I agree with you about transparency. Carlin was the champion for openness and unfortunately he was voted out.
Hal July 18, 2011 at 11:28 PM
One Opinion, one thing I can be sure of is that when I do get updates from my elected officials everyone else gets them as well. They're not just targeted to a select group. This is not the case with the school district and it's not right. By the way, Mr. Carlin was a great loss to the board and I hope he will continue to fight for transparency.
Chuck July 18, 2011 at 11:37 PM
Just admit the district goofed by not informing everyone and let the BoE direct John Nolan and his staff to add all of the other names tomorrow. Then everyone can be called for the next BoE meeting
One Opinion July 18, 2011 at 11:50 PM
There are school board meetings almost every week. All meetings are listed on the school district website. There are regular BOE meetings, special meetings, committee meetings, citizen advisory commitees, etc. All of these meeting are open to the public. Do you really believe that the Smithtown School District is expected to notify over 100,000 people personally every week and let them know the meeting schedule. Once again the online drama sidetracks the real issues. Once this transportation issue is finally resolved it's just a few months until everybody is screaming about closing a school. Everyone will complain that they were not told and there was no information. Yet, once again it will be because nobody paid attention or attended the citizen advisory meetings that have been taking place.
One Opinion July 18, 2011 at 11:58 PM
I can't remember the last time any elected official contacted me to give an unbiased view on any topic. They certainly get the word out and they make sure it's directed to members of their political party. Our officials are quick to dictate points which always represents the party line. Our politicians are the WORST offenders of targeting select groups. Now I think I am definitely off topic from the original article.
Smithtown Mom of 3 July 19, 2011 at 10:52 AM
I personally do not think it is doing anyone any good to focus on who got an automated message and who did not. The Smithtown Board of Education has definitely heard the voice of the public and it seems is now trying to do their due diligence and get the information out to the public. There is nothing wrong with us, as a community, spreading the word about this meeting. Send emails, post on facebook, talk to your friends and neighbors. I assure you that both public and parochial school parents are doing this! But, FOCUS ON THE ISSUE AT HAND, the safety of our children. Come to tonight's meeting and show the board how many of us HAVE gotten the message!!!!! There must be a re-vote.
Donna Marie July 19, 2011 at 01:56 PM
Yes and no. Safety is paramount and it is unconscionable that our children's safety will be jeopardizd the first day of school no matter what happens. And we all need to spread the word about this meeting. But the lack of transparency underlies everything from Mr. Ehmann's coverup of the multimillion dollar errors to the fuzzy transportation referendum. There is no accountability unless parents scream. The phone message said the meeting was about the impact of the transportation referendum on elementary and secondary public school students. There was no mention of parochial and no mention of a revote. If the meeting is about where crossing guards will be stationed, that's one thing, but if it's about whether the community wants a revote, then every resident should have been notified if not with a phone message, then a postcard. It is the legal obligation of the school district to inform all residents.
One Opinion July 19, 2011 at 02:45 PM
Tonights meeting includes a presentation by the administration regarding details of how the children will safely be able to walk to school and who is impacted. Mr Ehman stated this at the last BOE meeting. Again, people don't come to the actual meetings to understand what is actually happening. Hundreds of people have been coming to meetings for the last two months asking for a new vote. Those people are informed. Most of them are private school parents. After being presented the information from the administration the BOE might decide that it is in the best interest of the district to put a new referendum out for a vote. If that happens, that vote cannot happen for at least 60 days.They may even decide to do it next year.
Carl Woodward July 19, 2011 at 03:13 PM
So if a new vote is a possibility, then all voters should have been invited to the meeting. I'm sure people who knowingly voted against the proposition want a say also!
One Opinion July 19, 2011 at 04:27 PM
At any BOE meeting since the May school budget vote, the school board could have voted to put up a new transportaion referendum. Tonight's meeting is just another opportunity for that to happen. If you knowingly voted AGAINST the proposition then you voted to maintain the busing as it was and should be happy that thousands of fellow citizens have been busy petitioning the BOE and school district for another vote.
Susie Schlomann July 20, 2011 at 12:37 PM
Well said. Excluding certain people of the district from information, when they are not exempt from supporting the district financially, is wrong, and gives the appearance of manipulating the issue. I hope we can all agree that 'sunshine' is a good thing and will only lead to better government. Open government at the school district, state, or federal level is healthy. Keeping people in the dark or deciding which residents do and do not get information, as here with the busing meeting at HSW, should be a clear warning that all is not well. If it looks like someone has something to hide, they usually do.
mjjm July 20, 2011 at 07:27 PM
Mr Carlin never won a contested election. He lost twice a won in a uncontested election. This time he lost in a landslide. He did not even attend the last meeting and has not been heard from since.
One Opinion July 20, 2011 at 07:35 PM
IF you do not have the blessing of the almighty STA then you have an tough battle winning a seat on the Smithtown Board of Education. Mr Carlin was an advocate for the taxpayers and the children. Not the unions. He educated the people on what was really happening and the financial realities of the district. These are not characteristics that the the STA appreciates. Apparantly everyone wants nicey nice BOE members not real advocates for efficient schools.

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