To The Editor:
I am writing this letter to express my personal disappointment and discouragement with the current state of affairs with a select few members of our Salmon River Central School Board. I, along with many members of the Akwesasne, Fort Covington, Bombay, and Westville communities, was completely blindsided by the recent actions of a select few members of the Salmon River Central School Board.
This is a board put in place by voters in the school district to work in the best interests of the students in the school district, which they have not done. During the tenure of current high school Principal Mrs. Alison Benedict, the school has seen the following improvements:
■ The graduation rate has increased from 66% to 80%.
■ Student fights have diminished.
■ Mutual respect between students and staff has increased.
■ Advanced placement courses and honors programs have returned.
■ BOCES tech programs improved, such as HVAC.
She should be applauded for these improvements/accomplishments. I applaud her, we all should, the entire SRCS School Board should.
The vision of the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) is that: Each school board will lead so that each student will achieve success at a higher level.
Does our school board not share this vision with the NYSSBA? During Mrs. Benedicts tenure over the past three years, SRCSs high school students have achieved success at a higher level than before Mrs. Benedicts tenure. Great job Mrs. Benedict, and the school board.
!Thank you to the SRCS School Board for giving her the support and tools to make this happen. I am a member of boards, and I know that the boards need to show and provide support to the administrators and give them the tools and support needed so that the organization will succeed.
I also know that you cannot please everyone. There will naturally be a few members of any organization who are not in agreement with the vision and leadership of the administration. This happens and should be expected.
Mrs. Benedict is a member of both the Akwesasne and Fort Covington/Bombay communities. She, along with her husband and three sons, built their home basically in the back yard of the school. She is a taxpayer in the school district. She went through the school system at SRCS, obtained two masters degrees, worked her way through the academia system all the way to high school principal. As a member of her generation, I was extremely proud of her accomplishments, and proud for her and her family when she earned her position at the highest level. She is a model for our students to follow personally, professionally, academically, and as a community member.
According to the Center for Public Education, the role of school boards is to:
■ First and foremost school boards look out for students. Education is not a line item on the school boards agendait is the only item.
I do not feel that the select few members of the SRCS School Board are looking out for the best interests of our students. They are acting on the baseless allegations of a Board member who has a personal agenda.
■ When making decisions about school programs, school boards incorporate their communitys view of what students should know and be able to do.
I do not feel that the select few members of the SRCS School Board are incorporating their communitys view. Again, they are acting on the baseless allegations of a select few community members, rather than those that are in support of Mrs. Benedict.
■ School boards are accessible to the public and accountable for the performance of their schools.
As our SRCS School Board is accessible to the public, please inquire with them and hold them accountable for their performance, decisions, and actions.
■ School boards are the education watchdog for their communities, ensuring that students get the best education for the tax dollars spent.
o The select few members of the SRCS School Board are not watching out for their communities, but rather acting on baseless allegations of disgruntled community members, disgruntled board members with personal agendas, disgruntled employees, and employees with their eyes on advancing themselves.
Mrs. Alison Benedict is a life-long community member to the entire voting SRCS school district. She went through the SRCS school system, she succeeded at the University level, she succeeded as a teacher, she is succeeding as an Administrator, and does not deserve the target put on her by a select few members of the SRCS School Board who were voted in to lead so that each student will achieve success at a higher level.
Select members of the SRCS School Board have voted against granting Mrs. Benedict tenure, which will end her employment as high school principal. Rather than focusing on her accomplishments, and improvements made to the school in the best interests of our childrens education, they have taken a power position, where some can flex their muscles, rather than focus on the vision they were voted on the board to fulfill.
The misguided vote from June 10 was an advisory vote on the board, and the board will have a final vote on July 15. I am requesting that the voting community from Akwesasne, Fort Covington, Bombay, and Westville show up, and provide written and verbal support to Mrs. Alison Benedict.
I would also say, that Mrs. Benedict may have a good case for a discrimination and mental anguish lawsuit for what she has been put through based on the decision of the SRCS Board.
Niawen;kowa (thank you very much)
Michael Conners Jr.
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe