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Parents, Trustees Continue After-School Discussion

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. — Discussion between trustees and parents about the Morse After-School Program continued during Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting.

Mayor Ken Wray urged the Parks and Recreation Committee to come back during next Tuesday’s work session with a recommendation, based on two criteria: the program has to be revenue-neutral and the parents of the 40 children who were enrolled in the program previously must be fully committed to enrolling in the program next year.

“Those things are going to be asked and answered,” Wray said, elaborating that if the program is reinstated, it will be well-managed and won’t turn into a program that isn’t revenue-neutral.

Trustee Bruce Campbell noted that the Parks Committee had already met with the village treasurer to go over the numbers. He said they would be meeting with Recreation Supervisor Robin Pell as well.

Later in the meeting, Campbell noted that the decision to defund the program was “based on purely fiscal reasons.” However, he said the village was looking to find a way to make the program revenue neutral so it could be reinstated.

The village-run after-school program served 40 children from Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. Parents were paying $125 per child per month for the program. The Village of Tarrytown did not contribute to the program's costs.

Several residents used the public comments section of the meeting to express their frustration with the board’s handling of the issue. Lorena Carchipulla said the process “has been very exhausting and demeaning” for parents.

Dan Scott, a former mayoral candidate, asked the board members whether they thought they handled the issue well and whether they felt an apology was owed to the parents and to Pell.

“Do you think that was right?” he asked, later saying a response was deserved.

Trustee Karin Wompa said there “were some flaws in the process,” but she noted that when families came and spoke to the board, it began to revisit the issue.

“We are trying to do the best that we can,” she said.

Trustee David Schroedel disputed the characterization that parents did not know what was happening to the after-school program, saying they had five months’ worth of notice during the budgeting process.

Campbell added that the budget process was not a surprise. Now, he said, the board was trying to listen to its residents and find a working formula.

Parent Laura Rey Iannarelli said she was not aware the board was considering cutting the program until they did it.

“We did not have five months,” she said.

Scott got up to speak twice during the meeting, telling the board, “You are all leaders. Leadership is very much about taking responsibility.”

Scott asked the board whether residents should expect to be put up and hung out to dry on future issues.

“It’s wrong what you’re doing with this program,” he said.

Do you think the Sleepy Hollow Board of Trustees should reinstate the Morse After-School Program? Tell us in the comments or on Facebook.

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