Osterhoudt Gives Her Farewell... & Warnings
ELLENVILLE – It was a night for bittersweet goodbyes as the Ellenville Central School District board of education bid farewell to fourteen veteran staff members during its June 13 meeting, and followed with a reception where retiring employees and those faculty receiving tenure were honored.
Those retiring include former Ellenville Elementary principal Holly Eikszta; and teachers Selina DeCicco, Linda Fox, Maryellen Guba, Madlyn Phelan, Diane Rogers, Joyce Greenough and Martine Henriquez. Also retiring are librarian Denise Moore, clerk/typist Terri Blaunstein, senior typist Jane Muller, teaching assistant Susan Horwath, senior typist Debra Smith and cleaner Mike DePuy.
High school chemistry teacher Jennifer Pinkerous received tenure.
Also saying farewell was current board president Karen Osterhoudt, who did not win reelection during the May 16 elections. Osterhoudt had been a member of the ECSD board of education for 23 years.
"I have had the honor to work with the best school board," Osterhoudt said. "It has become a second nature family to me and I am so proud of all of us and the work that we have done together."
When she joined the board, Osterhoudt continued, the district was in dismal conditions. The high school had been condemned. Classes were held in the gymnasium and the school was operating on split sessions.
"It was a dire time," the retiring board president added. "Still, students learned and we did move ahead and we got ourselves to the point where the school was opened again and we were able to move ahead."
Over the years, Osterhoudt continued, there had been notable superintendents and board members. But she noted "turbulence" as the board transitioned from the leadership of Marion Dumond to the late Carolyn Kuhlmann.
"They were able to cohesively bring the school board back to a place where we could take care of the important things, and that was taking care of the children," Osterhoudt said, adding that a big part of that success could be attributed to the education the board received through the school board association. "I encourage all of you to move ahead with school board training. It's vitally important."
She also advocated for a continued watchful eye over construction projects, as well as an increased focus on reading levels for the district.
Osterhoudt also reminded the board to be on their best behavior.
"There was a time when people would come to the school board to get their entertainment," she said. "It was ridiculous. So I urge you, please don't let it go back to that. Ladies and gentleman, we need to be ladies and gentlemen and move ahead; we can agree to disagree but not be disagreeable."
Going forward, Osterhoudt also recommended the board of education continue their vigilance in reducing paper waste and utilizing technology more, especially in preparing for their meetings. She also urged a close line by line look at each and every budget item.
In other news, ECSD superintendent Lisa Wiles' contract was approved for another five years, until June 30, 2022. And the pool, Wiles said, is moving along and should be open this season.
"Can't tell you how really happy I am that it has been a collaborative effort," Wiles said. She noted that town, village and school employees have been moving along to meet the fast-approaching summer deadline.
Wiles noted that a leaking valve early on in renovations required attention, but that leak has since been fixed and the pool is now filling up. Water has reached the shallow portion of the pool and will continue to be filled after handrails are installed.