Message from the Superintendent and School Board

Rensselaer City School Community Members,

In the past month, an agreement that our district signed with the S.A. Dunn C&D Landfill this past winter fell under scrutiny.  The agreement was, unfortunately, misinterpreted as restricting the ability of the district to protect our students.  As explained in a previous message to the community, the school has never felt that we were restricted in that ability.  We were also provided legal advice assuring us of those rights.

As a school district, our ability to successfully educate students is directly dependent on a positive relationship and partnership with the community.  We never felt a restriction was put on us, but the misperception that we could not protect our students would inevitably negatively impact our ability to partner with the community.  That would have an immediate unacceptable negative impact on our ability to serve students.

Knowing our mission is to educate, the Board of Education reached out to the S.A. Dunn C&D Landfill to correct the perception.  They agreed that the intent of the agreement was simply to formalize a process to donate funds to the district over a ten year period and was not to restrict any reports, complaints, or communication.  With a common goal of clarifying the purpose of the donation, we were able to collectively negotiate a replacement agreement that is clearer and, honestly, better.  The Board will officially approve this updated agreement at our August 21st board meeting.

We always try to teach our students to have a “growth mindset” and to “fail forward” in their learning.  As educators, we seek out constant improvement in our classrooms.  As a school leadership team, we need to model that desire for improvement.  This is an example of the Board of Education working to set that successful culture from the top.  Our entire education team will continue to strive for improvement in every aspect of education.

We teach our students to collaborate with each other.  In that same spirit of modeling our instructional practices, the district is actively reaching out for help in ensuring the safety of our students, staff, and community.  We believe that the proximity of landfill operations to a school and residences warrants an elevated level of air quality testing beyond normal C&D regulations.  We know that the Department of Environmental Conservation has recognized this with their help in measuring hydrogen sulfide and particulate.  Our lead dust testing results were reassuring, but we need to know that there are not other contaminants in the air as the activity at the landfill moves closer to our property line.  We are asking that any and all of our regulatory government agencies step up and provide more air quality testing to assure that our kids are not breathing any toxins.  The future health of our kids is too valuable to be based on assumptions.

Posted in District.