2015 Kiryas Joel annexation documents

August 14, 2015 – Letter to the school district community from Superintendent Rodriguez

sent via email and posted on the school district website

Dear Member of the Monroe-Woodbury Community,

As summer progresses and we prepare for the start of another school year, I wanted to take a moment to update our community on what the school district has been doing as it relates to the proposed annexation of property to the Village of Kiryas Joel.

Please know that our Board of Education and district administration are committed to providing our students a safe and engaging school environment in which they can effectively grow and learn. This primary objective drives any decisions we make as a leadership team, whether those decisions pertain to curriculum, student activities, or community issues such as the annexation.

Please visit www.mw.k12.ny.us/kiryasjoelannex to view correspondence and pertinent information from the district since the initial proposal was made. Here are some highlights:

  • Immediately after the proposed annexation was made public, the district formed an annexation committee, consisting of Board of Education members, with participation by district administrators and community leaders. This group meets on a monthly basis and is charged with staying abreast of all activities related to the annexation.
  • Our legal team attends all scoping sessions and other annexation-related meetings to ensure the district has firsthand knowledge of important issues related to the annexation. This ongoing flow of communication among the legal team, administration, Board of Education members and community representatives is invaluable as the State, Town of Monroe, and Village of Kiryas Joel make decisions related to the annexation proposal.
  • In May we met with the Center for Governmental Research as part of Orange County’s independent analysis of the Environmental Impact Study.
  • When documents, such as petitions, are made public, the district’s legal team reviews the documents for validity and crafts a written response on behalf of the district. These efforts are ongoing. These responses are included on the district’s website.
  • Please be assured that the best interest of our students and their families is foremost in our minds, and always drive our actions. The district will continue to work with our constituents to develop the best resolution for our students and the community. We will continue to keep you updated throughout the school year as events unfold. Please feel free to contact me at 845-460-6200, ext. 6201, if you have questions and concerns.

Sincerely,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools


August 17, 2015 – Letter to the school district community from Superintendent Rodriguez

sent via email and posted on the school district website

Dear Monroe-Woodbury families,

Eight Orange County municipalities announced yesterday their intent to pursue a lawsuit challenging the annexation of 164 acres of land to the Village of Kiryas Joel. I want to clarify the school district’s position as it relates to this pending lawsuit.

The Monroe-Woodbury School District will not be joining this lawsuit at this time. The school district only addresses issues related to the education of our children, which is different from concerns brought forth by the municipalities. The municipalities are concerned with issues such as land development, water and sewage.

As I mentioned in my communication to families immediately following the annexation vote, the school district will continue to research the potential impacts of altering school district boundaries. We are in the process of hiring a consultant to assess the short- and long-term financial impacts of the 164 acre annexation and the potential 507 acre annexation. Once a firm has been selected, the consultant will be looking at factors such as tax revenues, state aid and demographic changes.

We will continue to share information with M-W families as our research progresses. In the meantime, please feel free to contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools


August 19, 2015 – Statement by Superintendent Rodriguez presented at the regular meeting of the Monroe-Woodbury Board of Education

I am compelled to respond to a recent email communication I received from the Town of Monroe Supervisor; Harley Doles regarding the annexation petitions pending before the Town Board of Monroe and the role the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District and the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District have in mitigating the impacts of the annexation. Specifically, Mr. Doles states that the Monroe Woodbury School District could easily protect the community from becoming “East Ramapo” by agreeing to redraw the school district boundary lines between Monroe Woodbury and Kiryas Joel.

Mr. Doles appears to have pre-determined the annexation petitions without an understanding of the deficiencies in those petitions, the impacts of annexation and based on inaccurate information.

First, we are not aware that the Town Board has made a determination on either the 167 acre or 507 acre pending annexation petitions. Therefore, it would be premature and arbitrary of the District to agree now to a boundary change when no determination has been rendered, the boundary lines allegedly to be redrawn between the two districts have not been identified, and the required information to request such change has not been presented to the District.

Education Law §1507 does permit the BOCES Superintendent to issue an order altering the boundaries of any school district within his/her jurisdiction “with the written consent of the trustees of all the districts to be affected.” However, before issuing such an order, the BOCES District Superintendent must receive information concerning: the number of students affected as a result of the transfer, the valuation of each parcel being transferred, an explanation for the transfer and its underlying rationale, an adequate description of the territory being changed, including a listing of each parcel owner within the affected area and a tax map or deed identifying each parcel. None of this information has been provided to date as no decision on either annexation petition has been rendered.

A further complication is the statute by which the KJ School District was created, Education Law, Section2218. That law permits a municipality to petition and submit a reorganization plan to the BOCES District Superintendent to partition territory from one or more existing school districts, to form a “new school district” whose boundary lines are coterminous with the boundary lines of the petitioning municipality.

On October 29, 1999, after being petitioned by the Village, the BOCES District Superintendent issued an Order pursuant to Educ. Law §2218 creating the KJ School District whose boundaries shall be “conterminously with the existing boundaries of the Village.”

If either of the two annexation petitions currently pending with the Town of Monroe is approved, then the Village and KJ School District boundary lines will no longer be coterminous. Our counsel has advised that Education Law Section 2218 does not address what happens when the boundary lines between the Village and school district are no longer coterminous and further, there are no decisions by the courts or the Commissioner of Education that provide any guidance.

Please be assured that the best interest of our students and their families is foremost in our minds, and continues to drive our actions. The District will continue to work with our constituents to develop the best resolution for our students and the community.


September 9, 2015 – Letter to the school district community from Superintendent Rodriguez

sent via email and posted on the school district website

Dear Member of the Monroe-Woodbury Community,

Last evening I attended the Monroe Town Board meeting where the board approved a resolution that allows the Village of Kiryas Joel to annex 164 acres of town land. A request to expand the village by 507 acres was rejected.

Knowing that this action was a possibility, the district has been investigating how a boundary alteration would potentially impact our district. Now that a decision has been made, I – along with the board of education and members of the central office team – am consulting with our attorneys to determine next steps. Once we have completed a thorough review of the now approved 164 acre petition, we will have to determine if altering the boundaries of our school district is in the long-term educational interest of our residents and our students.

Closer evaluation will help the district make an informed decision about what is best for our school community, today and in the years ahead. Meeting the needs of our students is always our first priority; our children deserve a safe and nurturing learning environment that promotes success.

We recognize this situation is unsettling for many people in our community, and pledge to do everything in our power to safeguard the best interest of our students. Let me reassure you that our students remain at the heart of the matter and, as superintendent of schools, I will continue to advocate for our families.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools


October 16, 2015 – Letter to the school district community from Superintendent Rodriguez

sent via email and posted on the school district website

Dear Monroe-Woodbury families,

At last night’s meeting, the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District Board of Education passed a resolution to form a boundary line alteration committee, whose purpose is outlined below:

Pursuant to resolution dated October 15, 2015, the Board of Education of the Monroe-Woodbury Central School District has established a boundary line alteration committee as a temporary committee to gather information, assemble necessary documentation and make recommendations to the Board of Education to assist it in identifying the factors that might be implicated in a potential alteration of school district boundaries with the Kiryas Joel Union Free School District, including but not limited to the educational interests of students, fiscal impacts, and community relationships, in the event any of the determinations reached by the Village of Kiryas Joel and Town of Monroe regarding the annexation petitions are confirmed. This committee shall be discharged upon the completion of the committee’s assignment.

The M-W committee will consist of three board members to be selected by Board of Education President Jon Huberth; along with Elsie Rodriguez, superintendent of schools; Dr. Eric Hassler, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction; and Patrick Cahill, assistant superintendent for business and management services.

In addition, Mr. Huberth, Dr. Hassler and Mr. Cahill will represent the school district on the newly-established Kiryas Joel Union Free School District’s border alteration advisory committee. We believe “having a seat at the table” will be important as research is conducted and discussions proceed.

The BOE also approved the appointment of Questar III BOCES, State Aid and Financial Planning, to assess the short- and long-term financial impacts of the 164 acre annexation and the potential 507 acre annexation. Questar III BOCES will be looking at factors such as tax revenues, state aid and demographic changes. They will aim to complete their report by January 2016.

The school district will stay abreast of all news related to the annexation and we will continue to share information as it is made available.

Warm regards,

Elsie Rodriguez
Superintendent of Schools