Oysterponds board split on choice of secondary school

Oysterponds Board of Education members found themselves mired Tuesday night in the age-old question of where to send their junior and senior high school students. The students are currently enrolled at Greenport, despite a lack of a contract with that district. Oysterponds is paying tuition under a state Seneca Falls formula for the current school year, based on a New York State Education Department ruling ordering that Oysterponds continue to pay Greenport for the current school year.

By resolution, the Oysterponds board has committed to announcing a decision by April 1, 2012, about where its junior and senior high school students will be educated. The district has had a longstanding, if sometimes controversial, relationship with its neighboring district.

But board member Thom Gray, who chairs the contracts committee, told his colleagues he’s stymied about how to proceed because steps that were to be taken by September still haven’t been accomplished. The plan was to hold a community forum aimed at discerning what taxpayers want in the way of programs and services from their secondary school partner and then to put out feelers to various districts.

Not only hasn’t that happened, but the committee members charged with organizing the forum said Tuesday night they first want to question some parents of current Oysterponds and Greenport students to find out what issues should be brought to the forum.

A prolonged discussion had several audience members shaking their heads Tuesday night, wondering why a two-step process — interviewing parents and then scheduling a forum — is necessary. Given previous board discussions on the topic, one person even questioned why any further community outreach is necessary.

And board member Krista de Kerillis said she already knows that a good sports program, advanced placement classes and a foreign language program are important. The purpose of discussions with parents and community members is aimed at expanding that list, she said.

Mr. Gray elicited agreement from board members that Superintendent Joan Frisicano should explore whether neighboring districts would have any interest in talking to Oysterponds about a contract.

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