Hunter Tannersville School Superintendent Adds His Voice to Broadband Initiative

Recently, Hunter-Tannersville School Superintendent, Patrick Darfier-Sweeney, addressed a letter to Governor Cuomo on behalf of all children in our region who lack adequate Internet speed and capacity. He has granted permission for us to reprint the letter on our website.

Date: Tue, 19 Apr 2016

The promise of Article XI in the New York State Constitution states,

“The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.”  The law provides the opportunity, fully supported and guaranteed to all children in New York State.  In this digital age, this promise cannot happen in my school district.  When students go home from the Hunter-Tannersville CSD their geography, not socio-economic standing, will determine the extent of their educational opportunities.

Of the one hundred and sixty-four square miles that make up our school district one-third of our area does not have access to digital connectivity except through the very expensive, slow and unreliable satellite system.  This situation is unacceptable and denies the opportunity of “support of a fully guaranteed education” (Article XI, NYS Constitution).  The problem is the lack of typical DSL service via the phone system, cable options, and lack of wireless cellular coverage.

The Governor, along with countless other politicians and education leaders, have made public statements about the need to correct this situation and even have pledged funding to support its correction, yet nothing has happened in our rural community.  Despite the acknowledged need to prepare our students for career and college readiness this basic structural shortcoming continues.

At the Hunter-Tannersville CSD, we extend our school hours in all grades K-12 for student accessibility to the digital world to support the integrated work we do every day. However, we are limited in what we can expect our school community to reinforce at home.  In real terms, this limits our ability to prepare our children for career and college readiness.  The opportunity to leverage the world’s knowledge for collective projects and enhanced learning is not available to our students.

Facts

1- The Hunter-Tannersville CSD includes: the Towns of Hunter, Lexington, and Jewett (East Jewett)

2-The school district is one hundred sixty four (164) square miles

3-The Towns of Lexington and Jewett have very limited to virtually no digital connectivity or wireless access

4-The Towns of Lexington and Jewett comprise one-third of the school district

5-Ability to communicate, research, and create digital products are determined solely by geography

6-Due to digital constraints school work assigned and expected from students is limited

7-Students at Hunter-Tannersville are not able to compete with other peers in the state due solely to their geography and the arbitrary selection of digital connectivity providers.

8-Despite multiple pledges by many in positions of power our area remains at a structural disadvantage

9-The Hunter-Tannersville CSD is charged by the New York State Education Department and New York State Government to prepare our students to be career and college ready

10-The Hunter-Tannersville CSD cannot realize this goal for its students since too many cannot hone their skills at home where they spend the majority of their time.  It is simple math, 6 hours in school, 18 hours at home, and 48 hours at home on the weekend.

Unfortunately, the longer it takes to rectify, the exponentially further behind our students become compared to their in-state peers.  The situation is unacceptable and needs your assistance.  We, at the Hunter-Tannersville CSD, respectfully ask for your help.

Sincerely,

Dr. Patrick Darfler-Sweeney

Superintendent of Schools

Hunter-Tannersville CSD