Southwestern Central School Students Update Board On School Year

Southwestern Central School students Jack White and McKay Young, the distirct’s ex-officio co-student school board members, provided a student perspective on the return to in-person instruction during Tuesday night’s meeting of the board of education. P-J photo by Cameron Hurst

Six weeks into the 2020-21 school year, Southwestern Central School students are doing their best to adapt to education amid COVID-19, senior Jack White and junior McKay Young told school board members during a recent meeting.

“I really like how we’re adjusting to the situation,” said White, one of the district’s two ex-officio co-student school board members. “We’re doing a great job and honestly, in my opinion, there’s nothing we can do better in regard to in-school as far as right now.

“We’re trying hard to make it normal,” Superintendent Maureen Donahue said. “That’s hard to do. And I look at the little kids behind their barriers eating lunches and I know they’re just dying to come out from behind those barriers. When you go down there and see them, it’s amazing. They stay in their little areas, they stay at their little desk. Hats off because our kids are trying to be good about it.”

White, who has asthma, admitted to the board that he was nervous about how the school year would proceed.

“I came into school the first day thinking we would be quarantined and in little isolation boxes,” he said. “As a kid with pretty decent asthma, I appreciate you guys for making it safe so that we can come to school. I was worried about coming in at the beginning when school started. It’s really safe. There are a lot of precautionary measures that we are taking. It’s just good to be back in school and see faces.”

He did note that the complaints from students have been minor.

“I know we’ve been deprived of a lot of things because of COVID, but the biggest complaint that I hear is that the arrows are too annoying,” he said, referencing arrows that keep the flow of student traffic going one-way in the hallways. “What’s a walk around the school to get to class? It’s not that bad.”

The two students are hoping to promote student involvement even despite the limitations set by the pandemic. Even though there is no homecoming football game in the immediate future, they still are organizing a spirit-related festivities.

“Since we’re in Red and Blue days, we’re going to spread it out over two weeks just to make sure that each day has the same amount of participation,” Young said. “We’re trying to incorporate the United Way and raise money for them. We’re going to do a Hat Day. Instead of asking students to bring in a set money donation, we’re going to let the students bring in however much they want just so they can do what they want. It’s hard times right now.”

They also are aiming to have a mask competition.

“Most of us don’t like wearing them but we know that they will help,” Young added.

During the meeting, Donahue also addressed New York state’s budgeting problems.

“To wrap your head around this state budget situation, the gap elimination adjustment for schools was about a $10 billion issue we had to correct,” she said. “They project a $62 billion loss between now and 2022. Having 5.5% in the fun balance was pretty purposeful this year. It’s going to be a tough couple years.”

She added, “I appreciate that you’ve really cut back here and I’ll get emails that people really need one thing or another. Everybody is trying to do their part. We’ll get there. We’ve never not worked together on this. I’m hoping for federal aid. What we did back in 2008 was that we got one year or federal aid. It’s now going to be a couple years that the federal government is going to need to step in.”


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