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New concerns about Placid schools

January 23, 2012
By Patti Gallagher

In September of this year, I questioned the purchase of the five Sony Bravia LCD Digital Color TV monitors. The $10,000 cost seemed disproportionate to the academic benefit to the students. At that time, I sent letters to the school board members, met with (Superintendent) Dr. (Randy) Richards and had asked for any documentation as to how these purchases would benefit any educational programs. I never received any documentation. I then listened through three technology presentations, and for me, the use of the monitors was never defined.

Now, on Jan. 17, I attended the Lake Placid Central School District board meeting. I saw that a new course approval was on the agenda. I was curious about this since important core classes have been cut related to budget. At this meeting, a new elective, Digital Media, was approved by the Board of Education. This course was created with the Technology Committee. The Technology Committee is led by Phil Baumbach and Dr. Richards. The monitor that was in the middle-high school cafeteria was relocated to the library. This room in the library will be the new classroom for the Digital Media course. In my opinion, it seems that this class was created to provide a use for the monitor purchased over the summer. I am glad to see the purchase being utilized instead of $2,000 hanging on the wall, but now I have new concerns.

During the discussion by the board to approve the course to be added to the curriculum, Herb Stoerr questioned the title of a book listed with the course description. It was confirmed by Dr. Richards that the book mentioned is the book which will be used to teach the course. The title of this book is "How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck."

I appreciate Mr. Stoerr asking this question, but once again, I am disheartened by the answer given and the approval of this course by the board even though this was brought to their attention. As a mother of three children, the language used in the title of this book is offensive. I confirmed that the books have been purchased (this was done prior to the board approval of the course) and the class will start Jan. 30.

Personally, I try not to use this kind of language, and I realize that it is all around my children every day. Unfortunately, it seems to be the society that we live in today. However, I am troubled by it being worked into our school curriculum. I want my children to go to school to learn and grow and be educated, not be in an environment where words like that are accepted.

Use of inappropriate language has been in the headlines the past few months. As I have said, it does not matter why this language was used. There is no excuse for an educational leader to use such language in his workplace in referring to co-workers. This is inappropriate and unacceptable to me.

We have been told that the superintendent's remarks that were made related to a female colleague were an isolated instance and he apologized. The community has been asked to move on. Now are we to accept a new textbook being used that uses "sucks, crappy, etc." throughout its chapters? It is not just the title. There are comments throughout the book that make me question using this as a teaching tool.

Words matter. Words are our most important tools in learning, teaching, forging relationships and building trust and respect. I do not promote censorship. If anyone wants to purchase this book for their own information, that is their choice. My concern is the judgment being shown by utilizing this book as a teaching tool for children age 14 to 18. How can a person who uses this kind of judgment be the educational leader of our district?

I am very concerned with the direction the Lake Placid district is heading. Our current situation will have a lifetime impact on our community and our children. I will say again that Dr. Richards should not be left in a position to make decisions for our students.


Patti Gallagher lives in Wilmington.



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