We read the following statement into the record at the Sept. 30 Hastings School Board meeting.
“We, the undersigned six past presidents of the Hastings-on-Hudson School Board and current Hastings residents, are writing to ask you to pause construction of the addition at Hillside. Even without the large cost overruns — such as already have happened with the initial estimate for the addition and now with the bid for the Hillside roof — the current conditions and uncertainty created by the Covid-19 virus mandate a review of all educational policies and practices as well as our facilities.
Education is changing within all district classrooms. We have no idea what the physical requirements will be for our schools in the future. It is time to pull back from the construction plan that passed so narrowly in what now seems like a distant past. The financial situation of many in our town has worsened during the pandemic. The needs of our students and teachers have changed because of it.
The board and the district are faced with unprecedented challenges. Given the myriad and ever-changing ways in which we are compelled to adapt to these difficult times, it is lucky that we still have the choice to postpone construction until the demands of our new world are better understood. We believe this would be in the best interest of all and urge you to make this your decision.”
It is now several days after the school board meeting. Reflecting on the discussion that occurred that night, we are surprised and distressed that the district is moving ahead with the plan for the Hillside addition. We are concerned that the board and administration are shirking their fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. Is it prudent to move ahead with a space that was designed and voted on in a pre-Covid era when we don't yet know what post-Covid needs will be? Will we need to refinance and rebuild the addition according to new standards?
Given that we don't yet know the answers to these questions, we urge the school board to postpone this construction until the situation becomes more stable.
Iris Hiskey Arno, Michael Holstein, Nancy Nager, Jeffrey Newman, Eric Sweeting, and Mary A. Wirth