State officials have revised a section of the new academic standards for nonpublic schools that have provoked a heated backlash from parents of Hasidic yeshiva students in Kiryas Joel/Town of Palm Tree and elsewhere in New York.

The section listed how many “units of study” students in grades 5-8 must take for subjects like math and social studies, and it stoked dismay because it appeared to demand even more hours of secular study than public schools require. As described in an online petition that more than 60,000 people have signed in opposition to the standards, “The State is imposing a total of seven hours a day of secular studies in grades 5-8. In fact, public schools are only required to provide 5 hours a day of instruction.”

The state has now rewritten that section by saying it meant those requirements to apply only to grades 7 and 8 and that they could be met over the two years combined, rather than for each one. In other words, what appeared to be a mandate of seven hours per day of secular study really meant three and a half hours per day, averaged over the two years.

“They are not annual requirements,” the new guidelines state. “For example, one unit of math could be completed in grade 7 and one unit of math could be completed in grade 8.”

Emily DeSantis, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department, said in a statement, “We appreciate the feedback we have received asking for clarity on the units of study requirements. As we said when we released the guidance, we will take feedback from the field so we can enhance our guidance as needed, and we are doing that. We have updated the toolkits to better demonstrate our intent regarding units of study.”

The state announced in November that all nonpublic schools must undergo reviews to ensure they are meeting a longstanding legal requirement that they provide a “substantially equivalent” education to that of public schools. That prompted a strong outcry from New York’s Orthodox communities, which see the enforcement push as government intrusion and a threat to their religious-focused schooling.

Chris McKenna

State police superintendent nominee has ties to region

Keith Corlett, currently the deputy superintendent of the state police, has been nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to be the next superintendent of the agency.

If he’s approved by state lawmakers, he would be the second consecutive state police superintendent with ties to the Hudson Valley.

Corlett and the man he would replace, George Beach, both worked for Troop F during their careers. Troop F’s territory includes Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Greene and Rockland counties. Beach lives in Ulster County. Corlett also has worked for Troop K, which covers the counties east of the Hudson River.

Corlett has worked for the state police for more than 30 years in a variety of patrol, investigative and executive management roles, including commander of Troop NYC.

He has a bachelor of arts degree from SUNY Stony Brook and a master’s degree in public administration from Marist College.

Michael Randall

Chester has 13 applicants for two Town Board openings

The Town of Chester supervisor is interviewing candidates to fill two vacant seats on the Town Board.

Supervisor Robert Valentine said the town received 13 letters of interest for the two vacancies. Interviews will start next week and the town is looking to fill the open spots as soon as possible.

One opening arose after Valentine vacated his seat to become the supervisor, replacing Alex Jamieson, who resigned as part of a plea agreement with the state Attorney General’s office. Jamieson was charged in May with grand larceny and 22 felony counts of offering a false instrument for filing.

The second opening is to replace Town Board member Brendan Medican, who resigned his seat because he is moving out of state.

Hema Easley

Historic Sullivan County church gets $10K landmarks grant

A Sullivan County church will receive a $10,000 grant to help restore it.

St. John's Episcopal Church in the Village of Monticello got one of 16 Sacred Site Grants totaling $241,500 awarded by the New York Landmarks Conservancy to historic religious properties throughout the state, according to a news release from the organization.

The Monticello church will use the funds to help restore its windows, the news release said.

“Religious buildings anchor communities ,providing a sense of history and place," said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. "They are among our most important landmarks. Preserving them also allows congregations to continue to offer social service and cultural programs to their communities.”

Matthew Nanci

It may be winter, but Liberty seeks summer job applicants

The Town of Liberty Parks and Recreation Department is now accepting applications for more than 30 summer seasonal positions.

The positions include ground maintenance technicians, Renaissance project supervisor, lifeguards, day camp counselors, concession attendants and day camp counselors in training, according to a news release from the town.

Applicants must be at least 16, although applicants for counselors in training and concessions attendants can be 15, the news release said.

Anyone interested can find an application at or pick one up at the recreation department office, 119 North Main St. in Liberty, between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.

Applications can be emailed to, faxed to 845-292-3588 or dropped off in person at the recreation department office. For more information, call 845-292-7690 or visit

Matthew Nanci