Morale has declined drastically at BKW

To the Editor:

My name is Rhianon Sherry and I am a senior attending Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School.  I have been a student at BKW since kindergarten.  I have many good memories of my years attending this school and have met some fantastic people.

I have been following articles in The Altamont Enterprise regarding BKW for quite some time.  It is evident to me and others that turmoil is occurring in our school and community because of the actions of the school board, interim superintendent, and the previous administration. 

Morale has declined drastically.  This impacts everyone who cares about the BKW environment. 

The various topics printed by The Altamont Enterprise consist of budget cuts, letters to the editor regarding unfair practices and lack of respect for the employees, the termination of employees, the resignation of employees under duress and the list goes on.

I would like to specifically address a Sept. 26, 2013 article in The Enterprise, titled "Three RNs for BKW as super helps preschoolers."  In this article, Mr. [Lonnie] Palmer, interim superintendent, stated, "Because the third registered nurse would be working on a bus, his or her salary is eligible for state transportation aid that reimburses 70 percent of the original cost.  That means the higher salary for a registered nurse will end up costing taxpayers around $2,100."

With that said, I would like to quote another Enterprise article, dated Dec. 19, 2013, titled, "BKW tends goals of district and state":  "Asked by board members where the money for new materials, software and staff would come from, Interim Superintendent Lonnie Palmer has said that savings made by consolidating bus routes and teachers' aid and assistant posts since he arrived in June could be used."  

It appears to me that consolidating bus routes or anything concerning the BKW Transportation Department is of minimal savings, at the most, after considering the quote from Mr. Palmer in regards to state transportation aid that reimburses 70 percent of original costs for the BKW transportation department.  Also, terminating teachers' aid and assistant posts would seem to be only minimal savings, as they, along with other "non-professional" staff, are the lowest paid employees of the district.

It saddens me to be graduating from BKW on such a low note.  I will remember the happy times during my school career and the many good people who have influenced my life.  Thank you.

Rhianon Sherry

Editor’s note: State transportation aid pays a percentage of costs for bus purchases, but not for operating bus routes.
See related story on the contract for teacher support staff at Berne-Knox-Westerlo

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