Tonight the entire school board will be meeting at Trinity School for the first time since the untruths put forward by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak about enrollment from children living at Avalon 2 were brought to light by Talk of the Sound last summer. It remains to be seen if Mr. Organisciak will take the opportunity to apologize to the parent he dismissed so rudely last year and set the record straight on the true impact of the downtown high-rises on the already over-crowded Trinity School.
At a PTA meeting last March, a parent asked Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak whether the district had any concern about overcrowding since the new Avalon building had opened up and that there were other high-rises planned for downtown New Rochelle. Mr. Organisciak repeatedly denied the premise to the question — that there were a lot of new kids at the new Avalon. When the parent persisted, the Superintendent talked over him and insisted that there not a lot of kids at the new Avalon and that he would be the one to know because the kids enroll in our schools.
Mr. Organisciak claimed that the district had very specific research on new families moving into New Rochelle, that the old avalon only had in its entire building 23-25 kids at any one time, that the district was not seriously impacted by the developments and that Trump had no kids enrolled in New Rochelle schools at all.
Mr. Organisciak proceeded to filibuster, offering a discourse on the marketing strategy of Avalon 2 which, according to the Superintendent focused on college students at Iona College, Monroe College, College of New Rochelle and other area schools by offering dormitory-style housing. He then detoured into a discussion about the economic impact of Avalon 2 on New Rochelle, claiming that Avalon does nothing for New Rochelle because the building is full of college students who are not fully employed in high paying jobs and they spend most of their money in Manhattan.
Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak wrapped up his rambling discourse by claiming that the school district had not seen any kind of major numbers at Avalon.
In fact, Anthony Galletta, a Talk of the Sound contributor, obtained district records last July that showed there were eighty (80) children enrolled in the New Rochelle Public School District from Avalon on the Sound (41 students) & Avalon on the Sound East (39 students).
The break down by school from both buildings is;
Trinity 32 students
NRHS 18 students
IEYMS 13 students
Barnard 11 students
Ward 2 students
Webster 2 students
Columbus 1 students
Out of District 1 students
TOTAL 80 students*
NOTE: “Out of District” students require services which the New Rochelle School District cannot provide and typically cost from 2 to 5 times more then average.
Where Organisciak claimed there were about two dozen children enrolled in New Rochelle public schools for Avalon One, Avalon Two and Trump combined — and that they were spread around at different schools — the fact is that there over 30 students from these three buildings going to Trinity with an additional 48 children at other schools.
When this matter was raised last summer in the context of Mr. Bramson’s false claims about the positive revenue the school district was getting from these tax-abated properties, the board was asked to explain the discrepancy between the figures put forward by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak in March and the actual numbers obtained by Mr. Galletta in July.
For reasons not readily apparent, none of the individuals who were present at the Trinity PTA meeting in March initially responded. Instead, David Lacher, who was not present answered for the board. In some rather long-winded remarks, he said that until Mr. Galleta’s article, he was not aware there were any students in New Rochelle schools from Avalon Two. When Mr. Organisciak finally spoke it was to say that his statement at the PTA meeting was accurate to the point of his responding to a question about Avalon One and the number of students in Avalone One.
False and false.
First, Mr. Organisciak was specifically asked about Avalon Two, not Avalon One. Second, Mr. Organisciak statement about the number of students at Avalon One was not accurate. He said there were two dozen when the actual number was 31.
More to the point, the parent was putting forward a question that was predicated on the parent’s observation that there were a lot of kids at Avalon Two. Rather than address that observation, Mr. Organisciak flatly told the parent they did not know what they were talking about and he, as the Superintendent, did know. When the parent attempted to dispute that point — the parent was going on direct observation as a person who lives within the Trinity District — Superintendent Organisciak steamrolled him and would not allow him to speak.
Mr. Organisciak, confronted with the numbers published by Talk of the Sound that came from the District, was forced to admit they were accurate. Rather than address his previous false statements to the Trinity parents he continued to spin, stating that the 80 kids were not all going to the same school as if that were the issue. Ms. Petrone spoke and stressed a similar point, talking about demographic studies, private school students, and Full-Day Kindergarten. All of point.
The point is quite simple so a direct answer is not complicated.
A New Rochelle resident went to a public meeting to get information regarding a widely-held concern about over-crowding among Trinity parents. The parent repeatedly sought to ask a question about Avalon 2 and was denied the opportunity to even finish the question by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak who then proceeded to make numerous false and misleading statements in a blatant attempt to obfuscate the issue with a lot of talk about marketing plans and how college students spend money.
A year later, with the facts now known, Mr. Organisciak continues to insist he was forthright in his answer to the Trinity PTA when he was so obviously dissembling in an attempt to deflect a question he did not want to answer.
I sent the following email to Ms. Liz Saraiva, Clerk for the City School District of New Rochelle:
I would like to address the board tonight on the issue indicated in the subject line of my email.
Specifically, that at this time last year Mr. Organisciak provided significantly inaccurate information to parents at Trinity School at a PTA meeting in response to a question about the impact of Avalon 2 on Trinity. The inaccuracy came to light after Mayor Bramson made his own significantly inaccurate claims about the impact of development in the downtown area (he claimed the district was cash-flow positive to the tune of $2mm). The Mayor’s claims were publicly challenged by Anthony Galletta and shown to be impossible because the district does not take in much if any revenue from tax-abated properties and the number of students in the buildings under discussion was well over 80 students. It was this information that contradicted Mr. Organisciak’s claims. When this was raised to the board last summer, Mr. Lacher, Mr. Organisciak and Ms. Petrone made statements about this. Some of those statements were true, in and of themselves, and some were not but not of them addresses the issue of Mr. Organisciak’s statements to parents at Trinity at a PTA meeting one year ago. During that meeting a parent asked specifically about Avalon 2 and was led to believe by Mr. Organisciak that there were NO students at New Rochelle schools from Avalon 2 (or Trump for that matter) when in fact there 3-4 times as many kids as Mr. Organisciak claimed.
I will be raising this and related issues to the board and would want them to have the opportunity to avail themselves of the CURRENT numbers for the 2009-10 school year.