School Board Announces New PHS Football Team Format, Clarifies Tax-Prepayment Policy

The Pawling Board of Education met for a business meeting on Monday, January 8, at Pawling Elementary School. The Board provided updates on the future of the high school football team and an ongoing district program and addressed residents’ concerns about pre-payment of school taxes.

Officials announced plans to change the high school football program to an eight-man format next season. In recent years, the team struggled to maintain the appropriate number of eligible players to be able to compete, owing to an enrollment decline and growing safety concerns among parents. The move to an eight-man team is popular among smaller schools, with the districts of Dover, Livingston Manor, Roscoe/Downsville, and Sullivan West also considering the change. Pawling will remain a part of Section 9 for the upcoming season.

The eight-man format eliminates six position players from the field, usually two tackles and a running back on offense, and two linemen and a linebacker on defense. In addition, the field of play is normally narrower (40 yards instead of 53 1/3 yards) and shorter (80 yards instead of 100) than a traditional 11-man field. Pawling plans to keep the eight-man format for the foreseeable future, and officials hope the alteration will allow them to easier maintain the proper number of eligible athletes.

In other business, the Board provided an update for an ongoing series at Pawling High School entitled “Critically Conscious Students and Staff.” The program focuses on continuing to provide a positive and supportive environment within the school. Thus far the series has featured speakers and a presentation on “See Something, Say Something” awareness. The series supports the District’s goal of “fixing the roof while the sun is shining.”

The series was introduced by the Metropolitan Center for Social Justice and the Transformation of School at New York University and has been offered to students and educators throughout the Hudson Valley. Pawling High School is putting a unique twist on the idea by allowing students and faculty to attend workshops together. This variation allows a safe and educational forum for students to discuss issues such as race, class, sexual orientation, disability, language, and gender identity. The discussions are led by an expert facilitator under the direction of the District’s professional development plan team. The ultimate goal of the series is to promote critical thinking and build student leaders. The program is voluntary and has received a great deal of positive feedback from participating students thus far.

Finally, following Governor Cuomo’s issuing of Executive Order 172 last month, the Board received prepayment of school taxes from several misinformed residents. The PCSD Board of Education issued the following statement: “The Pawling Central School District is not able to accommodate pre-payment of school taxes for federal tax purposes. Final payments of 2017 – 2018 school taxes were due by November 3, 2017. We are not able to provide estimated tax bills for 2018 –2019. Our District will not adopt a budget and tax levy for that year until May school budget votes. If you elected to pay the 2017 – 2018 school taxes in installments, you are able to pay the second installment to the Dutchess County Finance Department, 22 Market Street, Poughkeepsie, NY, 12601, (845) 486-2025 at any time up until the due date of March 15, 2018.”