Letters to the Editor

The town has a lot to offer

To the editor:

I am writing to say that I have been a very proud citizen of the town of Amsterdam my whole life. Our Supervisor Thomas DiMezza has been an integral part of making our community a great place to live, work and shop. This is all possible with hard work and help of our community leaders.

In addition, Dave Thibodeau and the employees of the highway department do a magnificent job maintaining our highways and keeping us safe. The former Mount Loretto Nursing Home which is now called Capstone has always been a priority by the road crew during winter months plowing the roads so that the staff and emergency vehicles can get up and down Swart Hill Road during storms. All of our roads are maintained for safety no matter what season.

As a child growing up in this community, I always remember being proud of all community leaders past and present who participated in taking care of our community.

I would like to thank everyone at the town for the perpetual upkeep of the Memorial Park at the town hall. With Memorial Day coming upon us, please take a moment to stop by and pay a visit to the memorial. One of our own town residents and a state trooper while serving proudly died in the line of duty and is on the memorial at the park.

In closing, please take a look at your own neighborhood and recognize how your neighbors keep you safe. The town of Amsterdam has a lot to offer.

Marilyn Sawyer, Amsterdam

Debating the points system

To the editor:

I am writing this letter as a concerned parent that has three children in the GASD: two in AHS and one in R.J. McNulty Academy for International Studies and Literacy Magnet School who is in fifth grade and should be graduating into his middle school years.

The reason I'm so concerned is that I received a letter home on Friday the 10th of May letting his mother and I his stepfather know for the first time that the school administration has been keeping track of some sort of points system. This system would allow the teachers and other folks in the administration team take a point at a time that could stop the child of being able to attend special trips/activities that all the students have worked so hard to earn. From studying for state testing and all the practice for those higher standard tests this year.

From what I understand taking away points for missing homework and behavior and not getting a chance to earn them back once they are gone they are gone. As one can see from the letter, depending of the amount of points lost throughout the year determines what they will be able to participate in.

This is supposed to be a happy milestone in their lives by moving out of the elementary setting (growing up). My child has lost a total of 23 points which now excludes him from every activity there is but one that may not even happen from my understanding. His mother and I fought all school year to get him on a 504 plan he has been diagnosed with ADHD and has been on medication for five years and this was all put into his file.

I understand that just that this diagnosis doesn't automatically qualify for this extra help. Seeing him doing homework some days until bed time isn't fair to him this means he is doing school work for more hours in a day than most people work as an adult per week.

After finally getting ahold of the right people, getting the process started, the 504 plan has been enacted in February 2013. Part of the plan was allowing for a less work load in the classroom along with frequent breaks of five minutes during tests longer than a specified period. This finally got put into place in February 2013 with little showing of improvement.

Every day he checks in with the social worker Mrs. Amanda Genzer. He has been doing this and it has show improvement in his behavior. I feel like his expectations in the beginning of year were too high and did not match the education level he had. Behavior is where he lost the majority of these points. I just want him to be able participate in what he has worked so hard all year towards.

I don't know if there are others that feel the same but on another note the fifth-grade teacher of my child told him that if he skips that day that he can't go on the trip she would send the truancy officer to our home to pick him up and take him to school. These special activities that they have planned are as follows: Environmental Day May 22, McNulty Field Day June 7, Fifth grade field day 3 June, Mohawks game 11 June, Fifth Grade Social 5 June, Lake George trip 10th June (and from what I understand is still up in the air yet too). These things that are scheduled are all memories of elementary school that I still hold dear to me from 30 years ago. Taking these away could hurt more than help.

I do understand as a parent the reward system, we all use it often, from my experiences there are usually positives as well as negatives. If the children were able to earn back points as have them taken away this could be a considered a positive system but only taking away points as only negative what is that teaching our children? The letter states: "Our hope with the students who have lost points is that they will learn from their mistakes, and realize that they cannot lose any more points. Good behavior and completed work is expected at all times of the year."

Matthew D. Butts, Amsterdam