Out of district kids can stay at C-R--for now


By Jim Poole

Two children who don't live in the Cobleskill-Richmondville School District can continue to go to C-R--for this year, at least.
Whether the two can stay at C-R beyond this year is up to the school board.
The situation came to light in August, when C-R officials discovered that Crystal Kennedy's son and Christina Arvidson's daughter don't live in the district. Through a C-R error, they had been students there for several years.
The two families live on Rossman Valley Road in Summit and were notified by C-R before school started that they'd have to enroll their children at Middleburgh.
Concerned at the sudden switch, the two mothers asked the school board to let their kids stay at C-R for a year so that they could make plans.
Board members agreed to that request last week. The two children will be attending C-R this year, tuition-free.
"We are happy with the board's decision to allow our children to stay this year," said Ms. Arvidson.
"Our next step is to try and make this a permanent arrangement, which will be taken to the board next meeting."
Superintendent Carl Mummenthey said Ms. Arvidson and Ms. Kennedy later amended their one-year request for a permanent stay.
School board members could make it a year-to-year decision or make it permanent, Mr. Mummenthey said Thursday.
"It would have to be thought-out ahead of time," Mr. Mummenthey said, adding that a permanent settlement would have to be 'memorialized' because the makeup of boards changes over the years, as do the administrators.
Both students are at Ryder Elementary School. The board could allow the two to continue at Ryder until it's time to move onto to Radez School, then end the agreement.
"It would be the time when it's a natural transition to another school," Mr. Mummenthey said.
Trying to be fair to the children and their families could be come a financial question. Tuition for a non-resident kindergarten through sixth grade student is $4,698; for grades seven to 12, it's $6,628.
"It's one of the tough things for the board," Mr. Mummenthey said. "Taxes are high, and so is tuition.
"Should all the other taxpayers assume the liability for those tuitions?"
That's a question the school board must answer by balancing the cost against what's right for the two students.
Agreeing with her neighbor, Ms. Kennedy feels what's right for her son is the key.
"I believe it's only fair to him as a student and us as parents to make amends for the district's mistake," she said.
School board President Bruce Tryon said the decision on one year's grace recognizes the district mistake. He also said the board will take up the mothers' request to make the arrangement permanent.
"One thing I can unequivocally say is that the district is looking at this unfortunate situation to make sure procedures are in place and followed so that it does not happen again," Mr. Tryon said.
Several years ago, both families assumed they lived in the C-R district and filled out the proper paper work to enroll their children. The correct next step was for the bus garage to verify residency, which didn't happen, Mr. Mummenthey said.
The two became C-R students.
"We take full responsibility for this mistake," he added.
Rectified for now, the issue will likely surface in the future.
"This is the first step," Mr. Mummenthey said of the board's action.