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Central Valley may extend Herkimer BOCES lease of Remington school building

Central Valley School District Acting Superintendent Jeremy Rich has recommended the district enter with Herkimer BOCES into a five-year binding lease with the option to buy Remington with a goal to vote on the sale of the building in the future.

Rich made his recommendation at the regular board of education meeting on Jan. 24.

The board had been considering taking back possession of the Remington building for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years to house Central Valley students during the renovation of the Gregory B. Jarvis Middle School. That move would have displaced BOCES’ Pathways program.

In a letter to school staff on Friday, Jan. 26, Rich explained his position, saying, “I must admit that nothing has been as challenging as addressing the future of Remington.”

“When I began, I assumed the matter was simple. Central Valley could and should delay any potential sale to Herkimer BOCES for two years. That would allow us to use the building during the Jarvis project and ease our many concerns related to relocating our students until the work was done.”

Over the course of his first days as acting superintendent, he met with Herkimer BOCES administrators, the Herkimer BOCES Board of Education and the school superintendents of the BOCES component districts. His goal was to express Central Valley’s position, but to also understand their perspectives.

“Through those conversations, I came to realize that what I originally knew was just the tip of the iceberg. Only now do I realize how much more lies beneath the water,” he said.

His letter to staff went on to discuss the value of the Pathways alternative education program and its importance to those vulnerable students who have been unsuccessful in a traditional school setting. He said roughly one third of students attending Pathways are Central Valley students. He went on to say that the school district bears an even greater responsibility.

“When Central Valley entered into an agreement to lease Remington to BOCES, it was more than a business contract,” he said.

“We became partners with our component districts, sharing the responsibility for the care and education of these kids—whether they wear the blues and yellow of Central Valley or the purple and white of West Canada Valley. As educators, I know we all take that responsibility seriously. We believe in all children and cannot be tempted to draw lines determining which children deserve opportunity and which do not.”

He worked with school administrators to explore housing Pathways at CVA. They determined that was not possible.

He also weighed Remington’s future and district finances after Jarvis reopens.

“There was conversation of BOCES abandoning any talk of a sale or lease and building something new on Gros Blvd.,” he explained.

“Financially, that would be a disaster for Central Valley. We would own a building, which by the deed, can only be used by a school or municipality. We would need to mothball the building at a cost of $96,000 until we could dispose of it. As the largest component district, we would be responsible for the largest share of any BOCES capital project—even a modest project is expected to cost $4 million. And all of this while our incentive aid drops $440,000 each year.”

He acknowledged that giving up Remington school will be inconvenient and that there are many unanswered questions concerning sports fields, space allocation, transportation, etc.

He closed his letter saying, “Now I come to the hardest part. I must ask for your help seeing us through the next two years.”

“In my time here, I have watched you do amazing things for our students. You have shown me you are hardworking and resourceful. You stand up for our students, our parents, and each other. Together we can make this happen.

“Looking back, could we have avoided this? Maybe, but looking back will not change where we are. We have a capital project and state funding that require we empty Jarvis. We have an obligation to children to preserve our Pathways program. Please join me in looking ahead. We can do this—together. I am committed to being a part of the greatness that we will create. Why is greatness important? Greatness is important because the future of humanity – the kids – depends on it!”