New York State Senator George Latimer filed the following report with MyRye.com after his Saturday "Cup of Joe" session with Rye citizens:
by New York State Senator George Latimer
A Cup of Joe Report - Saturday,December 14, 2013:
Implementation of the Common Core program for schools and the proposed Sustainable Playland Initiative were the two hottest topics discussed over coffee this past Saturday (December 14) at Ruby's Oyster Bar and Bistro in Rye, with 35 residents joining elected officials for a candid give-and-take conversation. Senator George Latimer, Assemblyman Steve Otis and County Legislator-elect Catherine Parker hosted the event, which despite impending snow, attracted a solid audience to Purchase Street.
There were some other issues raised - notably the County legislature's upcoming vote on a lease agreement with fixed-based operator Signature at the County airport, which brought out Rye Brook residents Michael Rosenblut and Jeff Diamond, a Blind Brook School Board member. The duo asked Latimer and Otis to urge County officials to act in a manner to protect their tax base of the Village of Rye Brook and the Blind Brook School Board.
However, the Common Core and Playland issues took front and center stage. Both Sen. Latimer and Assemblyman Otis expressed their unhappiness with the rigidity of the State Education Department in considering no changes to the current plan, which includes a major increase in mandatory testing for elementary and middle school students, and data collection of students grades, behaviors, etc. with a loss of privacy and control by parents and school officials. A number of Rye Neck parents spoke out passionately on the topic, a number of whom are Rye residents in the Greenhaven neighborhood, joined by Bonnie Gottlieb of the Rye Neck School Board. The concerns of over-testing children, teaching to standardized tests, reducing the creativity and fun of learning, was highlighted by succeeding speakers. The two state legislators outlined possible action that may be taken in January or thereafter, when the Legislature resumes session.
Playland's future generated more conflict with some residents expressing concern and outrage over SPI's plan. Both Mike Visci and Joanne Fairchild specified the concerns they had regarding parking overflow, noise, and quality of life issues for the many Rye residents who live adjacent or near to Playland. All asked for greater transparency in the public accessing key documents of the plan, and a more vigorous public dialogue with the Rye community; Legislator-elect Parker indicated her plans to organize a public forum to review the matter in greater detail early in the New Year. Jeff Taylor of Rye indicated the inadequacy of Playland at present, and he advocated for a new and more dynamic park setting and activities.
The Coffee and Conversation sessions were launched in 2005 by Latimer, then Assemblyman, and outgoing County Legislator Judy Myers, held regularly in Rye and Mamaroneck (the next Mamaroneck session is THIS Saturday, Dec, 21 at The Nautilus Diner from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.). Latimer and Otis plan sessions in Port Chester and New Rochelle in January, with Latimer hosting other dates elsewhere in his 15-community Senate District.
All three representatives welcome public feedback on these and other points at any time.
For more information, contact Senator George Latimer 934-5250