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Jeggings, regional high schools and regional teams

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We had another busy week. Here are some thoughts on a few of the headlines.

A GOOD FIT FOR THE REGIONAL TEAM

I was pleased to see that Vicki E. Perrine, chief operating officer of Ogdensburg’s Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center, will co-chair a regional team that will make recommendations about outpatient mental health services in the north country if the state follows through on a plan to move inpatient services away from the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center. I am sure Ms. Perrine will be a strong voice to communicate the needs of our mentally ill population.

I would obviously prefer that inpatient services stay in Ogdensburg, but until the state Legislature can act to undo the state Office of Mental Health’s harmful plan, the regional team still has a job to do. It’s better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Besides, at this point I don’t have too much faith in our state lawmakers’ ability to pull the plug on OMH’s proposal, so we need to hedge our bets. It would be disastrous if the state took inpatient services out of Ogdensburg and failed to replace them with the outpatient support patients need so they can make it in a community setting. To say outpatient services are already lacking is the understatement of the century. The current outpatient service structure cannot handle an increase in demand.

It will be interesting to see who else from the north country gets appointed to the regional team, which will also cover Central New York and will have up to 15 members. While I am glad somebody with a connection to our area has been appointed, Ms. Perrine needs company to balance our interests against Central New York’s.

THE REGIONAL HIGH SCHOOL DEATH RATTLE

It appears that the quest for a regional high school is singing its swan song, at least for now. Hermon-DeKalb has apparently backed out of regionalization talks with Morristown and Heuvelton central schools.

Let’s face it. State legislation allowing the formation of a regional high school isn’t going to happen any time soon, if ever, and the regional concept can’t go anywhere without it. The $30,000 feasibility study the three schools commissioned that focused heavily on regionalization will most likely be shelved. While it’s not the biggest waste of time and money ever, it’s got to be up there.

The latest news is that Morristown Board of Education members are considering an agreement to pay tuition for students to attend Heuvelton. I’m glad they’ve finally seen the light and appear serious about finding a short-term solution to the district’s looming educational and financial challenges, but I’m disappointed that board members have made a conscious decision to not explore the same option with the Ogdensburg City School District.

As I’ve said before, Heuvelton is a fine school and is doing well compared to many others in our region. I’m sure the district would do a good job educating Morristown students, certainly better than Morristown will be able to do for itself. But it is absolutely foolish for Morristown to not consider the athletic, academic and extracurricular opportunities the city school district can offer students.

It’s hard to ignore the geographic advantage as well. The shortest route from Morristown to Heuvelton is through Ogdensburg, and goes right past Ogdensburg Free Academy. Morristown’s campus is 11.8 miles from OFA and 17.5 miles from Heuvelton school, and student bus transportation isn’t cheap.

I hope Morristown school board members change their minds and at least look into whether tuitioning to Ogdensburg could pose more of a benefit for students and district taxpayers.

WHAT THE HECK ARE JEGGINGS?

I must be behind the times. Or maybe I’ve been pregnant too much over the last two years to keep up on clothing trends. Or I’m too old to care. Whatever the reason, I had no idea what “jeggings” were until I read last week that the incredibly form-fitting spandex pants designed to look like jeans were being discouraged as school garb by Hammond Central School District officials.

I looked them up so I could see what all the fuss was about, and I can’t disagree with the school’s decision. They are tight enough to leave absolutely nothing to the imagination.

What’s hard for me to imagine is that parents of young teens would actually buy these pants for their daughters, let alone let them wear them to school. In the article we published, we referred to them as form-fitting. “Second skin” would be a more accurate description.

Maybe I’m becoming a fuddy-duddy in my old age, but school officials have a responsibility to say what’s appropriate for students to say, do, and yes, wear, to school. Hammond school officials made the right call.

THANK YOU SO MUCH

On a personal note, I was overwhelmed by all the great advice I have received about how to help satisfy my pregnancy cravings while not violating the terms of my gestational diabetes diet, which was the subject of my column a couple of weeks ago. Heartfelt thanks to everyone who offered suggestions. You all helped me a lot, and I am more grateful than I can express.

I still haven’t built up the courage to try the chocolate cake that substitutes pureed black beans for flour, but I will. I will let you know how it turns out.

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