Question 11 of 20 for 2020 NRBOE Candidates: Moving Alternative High School?

Written By: Robert Cox
  1. The District plans on moving the Alternative High School from St Gabriel’s Church to Bethesda Baptist Church of New Rochelle. What are your thoughts on that?

Adina Berrios Brooks: I would have hoped for greater transparency around this decision, and a review of the suitability of the Bethesda site. That said, the possibility of a public school in the Lincoln Avenue corridor is an exciting possibility. I look forward to hearing more specifics.

Katie Castellano Minaya: The facilities at St. Gabriel’s presented challenges to the day-to-day educational experiences of our students and exploring another site was inevitable. Communication with staff and families is imperative.

Barbara D’Alois: Honestly, this is a much underused resource for the district. We need a way to expand it rather than scale it down. This is what appears to be happening. What I can tell you, is that more children need to take advantage of this environment (See, that’s the environment issue again). Students who take part in the “A School”, as it’s sometimes called, more often than not thrive and grow. It gives them the attention that they need to succeed without the larger audience that negatively reinforces behavior. It is sad that this program is often overlooked. So, the question is, does Bethesda Baptist Church expand and grow the A school? If it doesn’t, then it is definitely not the right decision.

Christopher Daniello:Did not answer.

Stephen A. DiDonato: The facility is best suited for our kids today should be the one we use. Disrupting something that seems to be working makes little sense to me. If Bethesda is a better site, we’d have to consider it. From what I have gathered that’s not the case. If this is a move to placate a few individuals in the community, I could not support a move.

If the move is necessary for reasons outside of my scope of understanding, then there might be reason to support a move. Maybe there are other sites that need consideration.

Sharon D. Footes: The short answer to the Alternative School being moved to Bethesda Church is “NO WAY”.

Matthew T. Hirschman: That needs to be thoroughly investigated. Is this move in the best interest of the alternative high school, or is in the best interest of trying to mend a relationship with Feijoo and some of her biggest critics? We need a facility that suits all of the needs of our students and faculty.

Michael Leone: My decision of whether or not to move Campus (Alternative or “A”) School from St. Gabriel’s School to Bethesda Baptist Church would be data driven. We know the many benefits that Campus students receive from small class size and personalized attention, and we would expect these benefits to be the same at each location. What I do not know are the costs. We know that St. Gabriel’s needs some capital improvements. We know that Bethesda Baptist Church lacks certain basic facilities like a cafeteria, a gym, and bathrooms, and that it needs to be retrofitted to make sound-proof classrooms. As an outsider, I am not privy to the costs. As a Board member I would decide based on which location could offer the same benefits at the lowest cost.

Timothy McKnight: I graduated from New Rochelle Schools and was a student at the Alternative Campus. I have seen firsthand the amazing work this program does and thank Mr. Fridovich for creating this atmosphere of learning and running it for so long. I will support a move only if I believe it is in the best interest of the students and the facilities are prepared to house students and can properly accommodate their educational journey.

Mario A. Scarano: I just don’t understand the move, is this a payoff to a friend, did they consult with Joel Fridovich who was the principle of the Alternative School for the past 25 years now retired, who I consider one of the finest school administrator I’ve ever known and had a profound impact on his students. Probably not, but it’s something that needs to be investigated.

Julia Taylor: I have heard the facilities at St. Gabriel’s are not great so we should research viable options to ensure we are following the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Donald Vega: I wonder why we are moving the HS rather than having two alternative HS coming out of covid. We are going to need space and resources critically. Money is going to be scarce, but we could find ways to expand our facilities for little cost especially for the high school students.