A message about the measles

The following letter was sent to school officials and parents from Sullivan County Public Health Services on April 22.

As you may know, areas of New York State are currently experiencing a measles outbreak, including the lower Hudson Valley and parts of New York City. Measles spreads easily and can be dangerous to anyone who is not vaccinated. If you have questions about measles or the measles vaccine, do not hesitate to call the New York State Measles Hotline at 888-364-4837.

Sullivan County has had two confirmed cases of measles but the individuals are no longer contagious.

What people can do

Locally, anyone who is concerned about their risk if exposed to measles should locate their immunization records. Those born before 1957 are presumed to be immune. Prior to 1989, it was common to only receive one MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella vaccine shot). Two are recommended for full (up to 97%) immunity and protection. Most people should have had two MMRs, but there will be residents who are either immune compromised and cannot receive it, or are too young to be fully vaccinated (infants and young children, pregnant women without MMR history).

The best course of action is for the parents and adults to look into their medical histories and then speak to their health care provider. If they are unsure of their immunity, they can have what’s known as a titer test to see if they are immune and then, if low, get a booster MMR.

The Sullivan County Public Health Department strongly recommends that:

all school nurses and parents ensure that children and are up-to-date with their immunizations per the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) guidelines;

you be alert to signs and symptoms of measles and other vaccine preventable disease (VPD); and

schools should maintain current and accurate immunization records for all students. Additionally, schools should maintain a detailed list of students who are not fully protected against VPD.

Recognizing symptoms

Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease (in the lungs and breathing tubes) caused by a virus that is spread by direct contact with nasal or throat secretions of infected people (when a person infected with the measles virus breathes, coughs, or sneezes). Measles is one of the most contagious viruses on earth; one measles infected person can give the virus to 18 others. In fact, 90% of unvaccinated people exposed to the virus become infected. You can catch measles just by being in a room where a person with measles has been, up to 2 hours after that person is gone. And you can catch measles from an infected person even before they have a rash.

Common symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 10-12 days after exposure but may appear as early as 7 days and as late as 21 days

after exposure. Measles typically begins with high fever, cough, runny nose (coryza), and red, watery eyes (conjunctivitis.) Two or three days after symptoms begin, tiny white spots (Koplik spots) may appear inside the mouth. Three to five days after symptoms begin, a rash breaks out. It usually begins as flat red spots that appear on the face at the hairline and spread downward to the neck, trunk, arms, legs, and feet. Small raised bumps may also appear on top of the flat red spots. The spots may become joined together as they spread from the head to the rest of the body. When the rash appears, a person’s fever may go up to more than 104° Fahrenheit. After a few days, the fever subsides and the rash fades.

People are considered infectious from four days before to four days after the appearance of the rash. Immunity takes approximately 2 weeks after vaccination for full protection if someone has low immunity or has only had one MMR and receives a second MMR.

What we’re doing

We have sent a letter to all summer camp operators through the NYS Department of Health office in Monticello and all Sullivan County youth summer recreational youth camps. We are placing posters and flyers in the lobbies of County buildings and local businesses. We are conducting outreach to various community groups and would be happy to schedule something as resources allow. I have met with and am in communication with BOCES Superintendent Robert Dufour. Should it become necessary to conduct immunization clinics or push out communications for the public to be aware of, our offices have a plan in place to ensure immediate notification of all districts or a specific school as appropriate.

The measles vaccine

The measles vaccine is a safe and effective measles vaccine that can prevent suffering and death has been available for more than 50 years. For more information click here or visit https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/parents/diseases/child/measles.html.

High community vaccination rates help protect people who cannot get vaccinated because they are too young or have specific health conditions.

Where to obtain vaccination

MMR vaccines are available at your local health care provider or by calling a local federally qualified health center, such as Refuah Health Center in South Fallsburg (845) 482-9394; and Hudson River Health Care in Monticello (845) 794-2010. The federally qualified health centers see uninsured or underinsured patients on a sliding fee scale and by appointment. They may require patients new to their centers to have a well visit first, before a vaccine can be given. In addition, the Greater Hudson Valley Health Care System operates four primary care centers as well in Callicoon, Livingston Manor, Monticello and Bethel.

Our monthly immunization clinic for uninsured or children receiving Medicaid is available at Sullivan County Public Health Services. The next immunization clinic is May 8 from 5-7 p.m.

We want to reassure school officials and parents that the greatest number of persons who are fully immunized will provide the broadest protection for residents and minimize any outbreak if measles exposures do occur in Sullivan County.

For more information please visit http://sullivanny.us/Departments/Publichealth/Measles or call Sullivan County Public Health Information Line at 845-513-2268 or the New York State Department of Health Measles Information Line at (888) 364-4837.



Nancy McGraw, LCSW, MBA, MPH
Public Health Director
Sullivan County, NY


  • Top 4 Things Parents Need to Know about Measles: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/parents-top4.html
  • Las 4 cosas principales que deben saber los padres sobre el sarampión: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/parents-top4-sp.html
  • FAQ about Measles: https://www.cdc.gov/measles/about/faqs.html
  • New York State Department of Health Communicable Disease Reporting: http://www.health.ny.gov/professionals/diseases/reporting/communicable
  • NYS school vaccine schedule: https://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/recommended_vaccinations.htm
  • Centers for Disease Control recommended Vaccine Schedules: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/index.html
  • NYS Outbreak Control Guidelines for Vaccine Preventable Diseases: http://www.health.ny.gov/prevention/immunization/providers/outbreak_control_guidelines.htm
  • Measles information: https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/2170/

The next board meeting is April 23

The next regular Board of Education meeting will be on Tuesday, April 23, 2019 at 6:30 pm.  The Board anticipates to enter into executive session immediately and the regular meeting is expected to resume at 7 p.m.  The agenda will be available on Monday April 22, 2019 at Board Docs

Draft 2019-20 budget contains modest additions to address student needs

Preliminary plan calls for 0 percent tax levy increase


At the board of education meeting on April 9, School Business Official Georgia Gonzalez presented a draft $48,393,178 budget for 2019-20 that continues all current student programs and includes some modest program additions and other investments to meet student needs and improve security.

View the April 9 presentation here.

During her presentation, Ms. Gonzalez estimated a district revenue projection for 2019-20 that would decrease by $455,935 over the prior year. The budget committee is proposing to reduce the budget through decreases in costs related to attrition (retirements) and the use of unappropriated funds (revenue left over from prior year’s budgets.)

The draft proposal includes improvements that represent the district’s goal to increase student outcomes by providing a quality instructional foundation with extra enrichment and support to meet student needs. The proposals below are driven by shifts in enrollment and student needs in the classroom, after school hours and on the athletic fields.

The draft proposal maintains all existing academic programs; creates a third School Resource Officer position and includes funding for four translation devices which would provide real time, two-way translation; an after-school tutoring program at the middle and high school; additional security cameras at the middle and high school; and field maintenance equipment for the soccer, softball and baseball fields. The proposal also establishes start up funds for a future MakerSpace at the high school.

The district will finalize its budget proposal at the end of the month. The Liberty Central School District Board of Education will adopt the proposal on April 23 and district residents will vote on the proposed budget on May 21.

Three board seats available; nominating petitions due April 22

District residents will go to the polls on Tuesday, May 15 to vote on the proposed budget and elect three Liberty Board of Education members for the seats of Matthew DeWitt, John Nichols and Dr. Philip Olsen.

The vote will be at-large, meaning that the three candidates with the highest amount of votes will fill the three vacant positions.

All interested candidates must file a petition and must be:
• a qualified voter of the district;
• at least 18 years old;
• able to read and write;
• a resident of the district for at least one year prior to the election; and
• the only member of his or her household on the school board.

All interested candidates must file a petition and must NOT be:
• a convicted felon;
• a member of another public office position;
• removed from a school district office within one year of the election; and
• a current employee of the district.

Nominating petitions must be signed by at least 25 qualified district voters. Petitions are due to the District Clerk, Tania DeFrank, before 5 p.m. on Monday, April 22, 2018.

Budget news available online

Interested in learning more about Liberty’s proposed 2019-20 budget? Looking for information on the New York State School Tax Relief (STAR) program, tax levy limit law or general budget terms? Visit this page to access glossaries, videos and more.

Please note: Since the development of the district’s annual spending plan is an ongoing process, we recommend that you save this page and open it weekly for updates. 

The district’s 2019-20 budget development presentations and updates are also available online. Following the budget adoption on April 23 printed copies of the budget statement will be available in the main office of each school building in the district, the business office and the Liberty Public Library.

As of press time, the draft proposal carries a 0 percent tax levy increase and maintains all existing academic programs; creates a third School Resource Officer position and a high school MakerSpace and includes funding for four translation devices which would provide real time, two-way translation; an after-school tutoring program at the middle and high school; additional security cameras at the middle and high school; and field maintenance equipment for the soccer, softball and baseball fields.

Voters will also elect three members to the Board of Education. Voters will cast their ballot on Tuesday, May 21 at Liberty High School. Polls will be open from 12-9 p.m.

Absentee ballots are available for voters who are unable to vote in person due to illness, physical disability, hospitalization or travel.

Applications are needed in order to receive a ballot. To request your ballot application, e-mail District Clerk, Tania DeFrank at tdefrank@libertyk12.org or call (845) 292-6990, or visit the District Office at 115 Buckley Street in Liberty. If you want your ballot mailed to you, your application must be received by May 13. If you plan to pick up your application and ballot in person you may do so until May 20.

Absentee ballots must be returned to the district office by 5 p.m. on May 21.

Future nutritionists, botanists emerge at LES

In an effort to empower children to make healthy food choices, develop an awareness of how fruits and vegetables are grown, and increase physical activity, Liberty Elementary School teacher Christy Green joined forces with our friend Bee Moser from Cornell Cooperative Extension to offer an exciting extra-curricular class for all second graders.

Fun, engaging and undoubtedly educational, the class featured a perfect mix of structure and informality. Students were happy to share their personal healthy pursuits, from making an apple pie with mom using fresh apples from the yard to trying – and enjoying – a chickpea from the school’s salad bar.

The goal of the 60 minute class was to teach students about the parts of a plant by focusing on the different parts that we commonly eat – root, stem, seed, flower, fruit, and leaf. Following a brief discussion, students put their knowledge to the test in a game that called for students to match a fruit or vegetable with the part of the plant it is known as. (For example, a carrot is a root, celery is a stem, corn is a seed, broccoli is a flower, etc.)

Together, Ms. Green and Ms. Moser hosted a healthy taste test.  Students were asked to describe size, shape, color, smell and texture of the food before taking a bite. As an added charm school-esque bonus, students learned the importance of a “no thank you bite” and how to discreetly dispose of a food they don’t like using a napkin.

After planting kale seeds in an  ice cream cone (because it’s compostable), students ended the class with a little exercise.

Liberty welcomes Mr. Chewens home

After a year in the Middle East, Liberty Middle School teacher John Chewens was welcomed home by the students, staff and board members with a surprise assembly.

Following a performance by the school’s band, Mr. Chewens former and current students reflected on what had been lost – and gained – this past year.

While students and staff undoubtedly missed Mr. Chewens, they reflected on how they were able to tighten the bonds of their friendship despite his absence. Mr. Chewens had been keeping in touch with his class through letters and video chats. Much of what he was experiencing, such as sandstorms, were incorporated into student lessons. Students and staff also sent him regular packages.

And Mr. Chewens also had a surprise of his own. He presented the Superintendent of Schools Dr. Augustine E. Tornatore with a flag.

Sullivan County seeks foster caregivers

There is a crisis in Sullivan County with regards to the urgent need for foster homes. If you are interested in becoming a foster caregiver please contact fosterhomefind@drcservices.org.

Ms. Pia Caro and Mr. James Guara are this year’s Outstanding Educator and Friend To Education

The Sullivan County School Boards Association recently announced that they’ll be honoring Liberty High School teacher Maria ‘Pia’ Caro and Liberty Parks and Rec Assistant Director James Guara as the recipients of this year’s Sullivan County Outstanding Educator Award and Friend to Education Award, respectively.

Both of these awards honor individuals who have made an impact on the education of children in Sullivan County. Ms. Caro and Mr. Guara will receive their awards at a dinner at The Sullivan on Wednesday, May 29. Cocktail hour will include h’oeuvres with a cash bar; a buffet dinner and dessert will follow. The cost is $37 per person.

Mrs. Caro has been teaching at Liberty High School since 2013. She has a zeal for teaching students English, instilling a love for literature, and preparing them to excel on the English Language Arts Regents Exam. Her dedication only starts with the fact that she is the last teacher in the building each day. The energy and enthusiasm that she displays in her lessons can be equated to a performance which she adapts throughout her lesson in order to sustain the attention of her students. The tireless hours of preparation that Mrs. Caro spends researching and developing her lessons and the technology she entwined in them is justified by the results she achieves.

As the needs of students in the District have changed, and a transitioning educational climate has burgeoned, Mrs. Caro is at the forefront of meeting these challenges through her energetic, engaging, technology spiraled lessons, and units. Her ability to change the pace of lessons, build capacity in students to read and write at a level that meets or exceeds the requirements of the New York State ELA Regents is only the beginning of her relentless approach to student growth and achievement. Mrs. Caro is known amongst her peers as a technology guru, who seeks to combine the newest technology resources with research based pedagogical techniques. Her ability to use technology at its highest form of learning can only be described as awe-inspiring. Mrs. Caro integrates technology in her lessons at the highest levels, the transformational stages of Modification and Redefinition.

As the Assistant Director of the Liberty Parks and Recreation Department, James works on behalf of both the community and the school to provide experiences that are fun, informative and enriching to all those fortunate to be a part of them.

James has been with Parks and Recreation for the past five years, and has planned and executed many events for our community.  He is the epitome of Liberty Pride which is warranted through his dedication, pride and zeal for teaching and instructing our youth to be upstanding citizens in society.  The energy and enthusiasm that he displays on a daily basis is evident in the many lives he touches each day.

James has lead the Youth Warriors football program to consecutive undefeated seasons with under the lights game experiences for young athletes.  James has brought free training clinics to Liberty Central School for all residents and is an active member of the town and Wellness committee.

James also takes the leadership role in guiding high school students during Hanofee Day Camp, giving students a chance to take on real life responsibilities.  James is always looking to better himself which directly impacts the counselors working at Hanofee Day Camp as well as anyone he encounters.  The softball program and wrestling program at Liberty Central Schools, as well as many other programs in the Town of Liberty, have been redefined thanks to James’ drive, motivation, and willpower.  James’ experience, passion, and integrity makes him a hardworking, wholesome individual.  As James often says and certainly abides by, “To be a good leader, you have to be a good follower.”

Art department wins rain barrel project grant

The Eastern New York AWMA Education Committee has awarded the high school art department with a grant to produce a rain barrel project. Student and staff artists are preparing the barrels and are proud to help preserve fresh water and reuse rain water eliminating some of the stream run off that occurs when our gutters send water across terrain to streams.

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