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The first "Coffee Hour with the Board" of the Royalton-Hartland School Board stretched to more than two hours Tuesday as about 15 students and parents aired a potpourri of views and questions.

Most agreed that there should be more public forums and seemed pleased by the district's "open-door policy."

Some expressed concern about what John Wood of Gasport called "a high percentage of failure in the Regents exams." A former teacher, he said a private tutor was hired for his daughter at $100, and she passed two Regents exams the second time around.

Later, the daughter commented on this year's upcoming exams: "It seems the teachers are not doing what teachers should to help us."

Superintendent Paul J. Bona Jr. assured the family, "Whatever is appropriate will be taken care of."

Earlier, he outlined the chain of command for families who dispute teaching methods: talk with the teacher first, then the building principal, then the superintendent.

The School Board is a last resort if the matter is not resolved, he said.

"We've got one of the most professional staffs I've ever dealt with. They're taking care of some of the problems themselves," Bona said.

Comments rebounded among many topics such as making 55 the passing mark for Regents; parking spaces for students; the selection of milk available at the high school; higher credit requirements for graduation; more elective courses for seniors, and use of the new football-sized field at Gasport Elementary School.

The board members listened intently but made few comments.

However, Board President Robert J. Bernard said he sees "a total upturn."

Veteran Trustee Thomas J. Gardner observed that Roy-Hart's budget had been voted down 13 out of the last 15 years and "for years, education was not a priority at Roy-Hart. Taxes were."

He said the requirement of passing Regents exams for graduation is "the third time New York State has tried something" to increase educational standards and it should be allowed to develop.

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