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Misleading statement in Times Herald Record article causes parental concern

March 17, 2014

On Sunday, March 16, the Times Herald Record published an article, Monticello braces for possible influx of students that has caused parents to express their concerns by phone and email about the fifth-grade classes from the Emma C. Chase Elementary School ‘moving to the middle school.’ There are NO PLANS to move ANY fifth grade classrooms to the middle school.

In the article Superintendent Daniel Teplesky is quoted as saying “Two fifth-grade classes will move to middle school, but Chase will still be a classroom short.”

By stating that fifth-grade students will “move to the middle school,” Mr. Teplesky told the reporter that fifth-graders will “move on from Chase and will matriculate into RJK Middle School as sixth-graders in the 2014-15 school year.”

The intention of the article was to explain the capacity issues that Chase Elementary School will face in the 2014-15 school year. Enrollment figures indicate that three classrooms will be needed to accommodate the 50+ kindergarten students estimated to attend this fall. Therefore, the building remains one classroom short of what is needed to accommodate the incoming students.

Our apologies for any confusion and concern this article may have caused.

Times Herald Record Article:  Monticello braces for possible influx of students

By Leonard Sparks  |  Times Herald-Record  |  Published: 2:00 AM - 03/16/14

WURTSBORO — Monticello's school board is wrestling with a classroom shortage at an already overcrowded Chase Elementary School while facing the prospect of a significant influx of students from possible casino and wellness-center projects.

An estimated 50-plus kindergarten students — enough for three classrooms — are projected to enroll this fall at Chase, Superintendent Dan Teplesky said.

Two fifth-grade classes will move to middle school, but Chase will still be a classroom short, he said.

"We're looking at all options, including class sizes at Chase," he said.

Chase students already eat lunch in their classrooms because the cafeteria is being used for instructional space, according to a consultant's report released in January.

Music is taught in an undersized space, and the school is without space for an art room, the report said.

Right now, the priority is to solve what is expected to be a one-classroom shortage, Teplesky said. Monticello's board has already ruled out using portable classrooms, he said.

Options include combining classes of the same grade at Chase and redrawing boundaries to free up space by shifting students to the district's other two elementary schools, George L. Cooke Elementary and Kenneth L. Rutherford Elementary.

The consultant's report also raised the option of assigning one of Chase's kindergarten classes to Cooke or Rutherford, or reopening the Duggan School in Bethel.

"The short-term is to see how we can address the number of classrooms and ensure we have space for all of our students at Chase next year," Teplesky said.

Board members are also eyeing the casino-licensing process.

Local officials expect a state commission to approve at least one gambling resort in Sullivan County. One of the contenders is Monticello Raceway owner Empire Resorts, which wants to build a casino at the former Concord Hotel site.

In addition, Veria Lifestyle is planning to redevelop the former Kutsher's resort, located in the Town of Thompson, into a retreat center with a hotel, spa and restaurants.

How those projects would impact the Monticello School District is unknown. But the district's board faces the real possibility of an influx of new students as people relocate to Sullivan for new jobs.

"What would happen if we had an influx of 200 to 300 students?" Teplesky said.