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Teachers to Retire, School Budget Planning, Food Service and More from the Scarsdale Schools

schoollunchHow much will school taxes go up next year? Which teachers are planning to retire and what's the plan for food service at the elementary schools? These were just a few of the topics discussed at the Board of Education meeting on Tuesday January 22, 2018, in addition to lots of talk about the proposed 2018 bond initiative.

The January 8, 2018 estimate of the proposed school budget for the 2018/19 school year shows a budget to budget increase of 2.43% and a tax levy increase of 2.88%, which is below the projected tax cap of 3.31%. In total, the draft budget stands at $157,423,353. However Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey noted that this increase may go down as a group of veteran teachers will retire.

Enrollment and Staffing:

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick provided information on enrollment and staffing history as part of the budgeting process for the 2018-19 school year. The graph showed relatively steady enrollment over the past nine years, with a low of 4,663 students in 2009, a high of 4,821 in 2015 and 4,769 students now enrolled in the Scarsdale schools. This year, staffing rose from 448.7 certified staff to 456.5, to accommodate the new steam curriculum and two additional elementary class sections for a total of 106 and for co-taught classes.

For next year, the district anticipates that the two provisional elementary school teachers that were added last year due to enrollment will be needed again in addition to one more special education teacher. In addition, there might be a need for a .4 FTE STEAM teacher for courses in the D-lab and on entrepreneurship, based on course enrollment.

Board member Nina Cannon questioned why staffing was going up when enrollment was flat and Patrick said that some staff members had been reclassified as certified from non-certified and that the district was building its STEAM program.

Art Rublin asked about the district policy to increase class enrollment in the co-taught classes to 24 students in K-3 and 26 students in grades 4 and 5. He said, "I don't think we ever discussed going over the class caps. Is this appropriate – we never discussed it. Many are concerned about the numbers going up."

Lee Maude questioned the addition of the .4 STEAM teacher saying, "In 2014 we were asked many times about the head count that would be needed to staff the STEM program and the new facilities at the high school. (About class choices) she said, "At what point do we tell students to try next year? We promised that to the people who supported that bond.. There are a lot of art classes that people want to take – they know they won't get it – but they'll get it later." Referring to the projected budget increase she said, "When I look at the 2.4% number it concerns me. We added a lot of staff over the last two years. I am not saying I don't want .4 staff. Where else can we do something to make up for that increase? Better use of staff? ... Have we sought reductions in other areas?"

Chris Morin added, "I would hate to see us save $44,000 for the steam program. I think we are well within what taxpayers expect to spend --2.4%."

Budget study sessions will be held on February 5, 12 and March 5. The budget will be reviewed at the March 19 meeting and the budget will be adopted at the April 16 meeting of the Board of Education.

Food Service:

Prior to the business meeting, Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey reviewed the progress of the district wide food service committee that is discussing how the district will assume food service at all schools beginning in September. He said that they have been working with a consultant as well as Chartwells, the existing supplier for district schools, to analyze space and equipment needs. A subcommittee has been formed to look into menu planning and a communications committee will work on plans to get the word out to parents about this change. The committee is analyzing how parents will order and pay and the sustainability committee is considering reusable utensils and food containers and how to minimize waste and maximize recycling.

The food service operation has its own funding and operates like a small business. Revenues come from the sale of the food. They currently have a fund balance of $400,000 that will be used to purchase equipment, carts, trays, servings pieces and tableware, though more funds will be needed for the start-up. Plans call for the lunches to be prepared at a central kitchen and delivered each day to the schools that currently have no kitchens.

Retirements:

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick announced the upcoming retirement of many veteran faculty members at the end of this school year.

Here's the list:

Dace Aperans, Music Teacher at Quaker Ridge Elementary School
Jeanne Conlin, Special Education Teacher at Scarsdale Middle School
John Cuk, Music Teacher at Scarsdale High School
Maggie Favretti, Social Studies Teacher at Scarsdale High School
Linda Fisher, Art Teacher at Scarsdale Middle School
Barney Foltman, Physical Education Teacher at Scarsdale Middle
Marjorie Najac, Guidance Counselor at Scarsdale Middle School
Chris Renino, Assistant Principal at Scarsdale High School
Susan Silver, English Teacher at Scarsdale High School.
John Waters, Math Teacher at Scarsdale High School
Christine Gillaland, Science Teacher at Scarsdale Middle School

Elena Costas Fiorella, Speech and Language Teacher at Edgewood
Karen Stieffel, Nurse at the French American School

Tax Certioraris

The district approved payment of tax refunds to the following residents as the result of tax certiorari proceedings:

Greg Soldateno, Farragut Lane, $14,993
Greg Soldatenko, 9 Lenox Place $4,585
Elena DiGiovanni, 14 Colonial Road - $4,119

In a discussion about the tax certiorari reserve, Assistant Superintendent Mattey said these payments were just the "tip of the iceberg" and represented about 20% of the payments the district expects to make this year. For the 2018-19 school budget, the district expects to hold $625,000 in reserve for tax certiorari payments.

Mandarin at Scarsdale Middle School

Lynn Shain, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum announced that a pilot Mandarin program at Scarsdale Middle School had been suspended as of Friday January 19 when enrollment in the program dwindled to 18 students. The class was held during the "zero" period, or before school.

She also announced at foreign language at the elementary schools was now being taught three times a week, at one 40 minute period and at two twenty minute periods. Shain shared information on a trip that teachers, computer teachers and librarians will take to the Parkway School in Greenwich to see how they use their learning commons and explore how the use of these new spaces will be incorporated into the curriculum.

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