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Hollisters voice concerns over school health clinic

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POTSDAM - At last week’s capital project public hearing Dick and Jane Hollister voiced concerns somewhere in the district.

They raised those concerns again Tuesday night and were again given the same answer - it’s not going to happen.

However, their concern over a perceived “bait and switch” led board of education member Wade A. Davis, who also chairs the district’s building and grounds committee, to call for a resolution precluding a health clinic from any way being connected to the capital project.

“We have two members of the public here saying there are back door plans to get a health clinic going on here,” Mr. Davis said. “It has been addressed by the committee, the board and in the media, but there are continued falsehoods out there.”

Following the meeting, Mr. Davis said he has learned that if such matters are not addressed they end up being perceived as fact.

Mr. Davis was joined by Board President Christopher C. Cowen and Frederick C. Stone Jr. in again stressing that there are no plans for a health clinic at the school now or in the near future.

In a statement read at the meeting and given to the board Tuesday night, Mr. Hollister said, “At the capital project hearing, we specifically questioned the use of facilities to be renovated wanting to be assured that our investment is solely dedicated to educational needs, not a school based health clinic. We were told it’s not in the scope.Unfortunately, the scope of the project does not address use.”

Mr. Hollister then referred back to an Aug. 14 meeting when the board received information on such a clinic and agreed to study the matter.

“To date, taxpayers have not been told what decision has been made about this clinic proposal,” Mr. Hollister said. “The intention appears obvious, to seek approval of the project locally and obtain SED approval under false pretenses by omitting use of facilities.”

Mr. Hollister concluded his statement with what he called “a simple question.”

“Does this board plan to use project funds to alter, modify or reconstruct space for use as a school based health clinic?”

In an attempt to permanently put the issue to bed, Mr. Davis then asked for a resolution precluding a school based health clinic from having any connection to the district’s capital project.

No one seconded Mr. David’s resolution or supported the request when he asked for such a resolution to be placed on the agenda for the board’s next meeting.

“I don’t want to set precedent that every time someone raises a question that we object to, we address it formally,” Mr. Cowen said, adding that responding to a question during the public comment period isn’t something the board should be expected to do.

“During public comment it is appropriate for the board to not respond,” he said, adding though that he didn’t have a problem responding Tuesday night.

“Tonight it was a simple, No we are not doing this,’” he said.

Board of education member J. Patrick Turbett said such accusations and questioning come with the territory.

“Sometimes democracy is messy,” Mr. Turbett said, referring to the Hollisters right to speak at the meeting. “I’m not advocating for it, but fascism is easier.”

Mr. Turbett also said that he’s not sure a resolution would even kill the issue unless Mr. Hollister was prepared to let it die.

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