New Leb Parent: Choose Option 1 for New Lebanon School

Dear New Lebanon Building Committee, Board of Education & Board of Selectmen,

I’ve attended various meetings and public forums for the past two years, listening to the community toss around many possibilities in regards to the new New Lebanon School building.  Initially, I took comfort in the fact that a building committee consisting of professionals in the field would be formed and they, along with Planning & Zoning, would be charged with making the final decision.

Two years into this process, I realize that elected officials and some community members seem to think they are the experts in the real estate field or perhaps have an agenda of their own.

It has been surprising, to say the least, to hear a few community members push back so hard at the various options when in fact there wasn’t an actual design – only possibilities.  Now, we are finally at the point where we have actual designs in front of us.

On Wednesday, November 11, as I sat and listened to Tai Soo Kim present the different options, it was clear that the best design for the town and the students is Option 1.  Option 1 not only meets the educational specs for our school community but causes the LEAST disruption to our students, offers the most functional design and layout and will integrate well with the Byram community.

There were several “handicaps” mentioned by Mr. Kim with Option D such as the service vehicles access to the building due to the steep hill, and putting a 3-story building on the footprint of where a two-story building fits.  These handicaps should be enough reason NOT to choose Option D.

The main use of the building is for the students.  In Option D there will be many students who will have to climb two levels of stairs to get to common spaces.  On a daily basis the amount of travel time that would be equal to wasted non-instructional time is significant.  The differential between Option 1 and Option D means students have loss hundreds of hours of of instructional time traveling from their classrooms to the common spaces over six years of elementary education.  By choosing Option D you are essentially condoning this loss of learning, which is significant in a school that has an achievement gap to overcome.  Everyday, the New Lebanon School administration, parents and teachers are working extremely hard to bridge this achievement gap.  Don’t create more obstacles for the school community by choosing Option D.

As a parent of a current third grader and incoming kindergartner for 2016-2017, I urge you to NOT make this about politics, but to truly keep and open mind and make your choice based on what is best for the students educationally and for the Byram community for the next 50 plus years.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dana Rodriguez
New Lebanon School PTA Executive Board Member
Louden Street, Greenwich