Thursday, Aug 16th

Last updateWed, 15 Aug 2018 3pm

You are here: Home Content Shout it Out League of Women Voters of Scarsdale Opposes $64.9 Million Bond Proposal for Scarsdale Schools
first
  
last
 
 
start
stop
Advice on Standardized Testing from a Recent Scarsdale Grad

Advice on Standardized Testing from a Recent Scarsdale Grad

As the new school year approaches, many students are beginning to c...

LimeBikes Show Up On Scarsdale Streets

LimeBikes Show Up On Scarsdale Streets

Have you seen any green and yellow bikes on sidewalks or lawns arou...

Shake Shack to Open on Central Avenue Plus More Retail News

Shake Shack to Open on Central Avenue Plus More Retail News

Though many people are out of town, we took a trip around town to s...

A Mid East Feast For All The Senses At Fez Turkish Meze

A Mid East Feast For All The Senses At Fez Turkish Meze

Do the words grape leaves, pomegranate molasses, sumac, pine nuts, ...

first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

League of Women Voters of Scarsdale Opposes $64.9 Million Bond Proposal for Scarsdale Schools

redquestionAfter months of study, the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale issued a surprising statement to the Scarsdale School administration and the Board of Education at their January 22, 2018 meeting. For the first time anyone can remember, the League came out against a school bond, saying, "We support a bond ... but not this bond." Though the League supports investment in the Scarsdale Schools, they "disagree with this proposal for substantive reasons and for the way in which it was conceived and presented to the community." Reviewing the development of the proposed $64.9 million 2018 bond, the statement, says,"the process for the development of this Bond was flawed and thus undermined the League's confidence in the result."

Furthermore, the consensus was that the community was not provided opportunities to give input on issues such as school cafeterias, air conditioning and sustainability or to vet options to renovate the Greenacres School vs. building a new school. They also questioned the Board's decision to limit the discussion to tax neutral solutions.

The statement concludes with a list of recommendations on how the Board can reach out to the community in the future, develop goals and a vision and build consensus.

The statement reflects the consensus of the membership of the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale and was read by Mary Beth Evans, who chaired the bond study committee, Linda Doucette-Ashman, co-President of the League and League Board member Amy Cooper.

Read the entire statement below.


Acknowledgements
The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale (the "League") thanks members of the Board of Education (the "Board") and District Administration (the "Administration") for their presentation and responses to League questions on the Proposed 2018 School Facilities Bond (the "Bond") at the League's General Membership Meeting held January 10, 2018.

The League acknowledges that much time and effort have gone into developing the Bond and we thank the Administration and the Board for their additional effort spent in preparing for our meeting and for providing the audience with informational handout materials on the Bond. The League also appreciates that members of the Board and Administration allowed additional time to respond to numerous audience member questions that extended the public information session past the scheduled time.

The League appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Bond. This statement reflects the consensus of League members at a meeting held immediately following the public information session on January 10, 2018.

Position
The League does not support the 2018 School Facilities Bond. To be clear, the League struggled with this statement because we do support investment in Scarsdale school facilities in order to maintain and enhance Scarsdale educational excellence and to ensure the health, safety and security of our students and staff. Moreover, we support a bond as a means of funding projects that address major facilities needs. We disagree with this proposal for substantive reasons and for the way in which it was conceived and presented to the community. Should the Bond be voted down, the League hopes that the Board and Administration will begin a new bond process without delay and with a more fully integrated long-range vision. In short, we support a bond but not this particular Bond.

Major Objections & Concerns
While we recognize that no bond process is perfect, the process for the development of this Bond was flawed and thus undermined the League's confidence in the result. The League notes that the process did not provide:

  • Timely, structured and thorough outreach to identify broad community values and priorities early on;
  • Timely, thorough and broad community input on such issues as elementary school cafeterias and kitchens, district-wide classroom air conditioning, and sustainability;
  • An opportunity for the community to thoroughly explore and vet all cost/value options;
  • A full cost/benefit analysis to justify the Administration's recommendation and Board's 
decision to renovate and expand versus building a new Greenacres School; or
  • A clear and compelling explanation of the Board's decision that the scope of the bond should be "tax neutral" (i.e., resulting in no associated tax increase to homeowners), especially given the long list of identified work and current favorable borrowing climate.


Furthermore, most conspicuously and significantly absent from the process that produced this Bond was a long-range vision for all of our schools. The process did not provide a coherent picture of what our buildings need in order to preserve and enhance a high quality Scarsdale education or a plan to address all facilities needs moving forward. The League believes that an opportunity was missed to develop a long-range master facilities plan and to present a framework for the future that could bring the community together in support of all of our school buildings.

The League acknowledges that ultimately:

• In late fall 2017, the Board did shift the bond vote date forward to include additional 
meetings that involved open Board member deliberation and opportunity for public input 
on key priorities and values;
• In October 2017, the Administration did articulate educational goals for the Greenacres 
School project; and
• In late December 2017, the District did provide the public with new informational 
materials that now present the Bond projects in a more digestible format and are readily accessible on the District website.


However, the League maintains that each of these positive actions were taken too late in the process. We therefore reiterate several concerns with the process expressed in various public statements at School Board meetings since July 2017 by the League School Bond Study Committee and League Board, including:

• The overwhelming volume of data presented at each public meeting;
• The constant shifts in narrative following real-time District decision-making;
• The absence of a clear statement of the Board's overall objective as it relates to the 
quality of our schools and Scarsdale's educational values; and
• The insufficient opportunity for public input and insufficient Board deliberation to fully 
inform the public in a manner that allowed the community more timely opportunity to engage, question, challenge and/or support the School Board's educational rationale and fiscal assumptions in deciding the key parameters of the Bond. 


The League further concludes that the District's presentation of how the proposed Bond project would address Greenacres School's educational needs lacked specificity. In the end, we lacked a sufficiently detailed picture of how students would experience the proposed new addition and changes to the existing building, and how the project would connect to the District's larger educational vision not only for Greenacres but for all District schools. There was also no clear answer provided as to how long we could expect the $35 million investment to serve the community. 


The League remains uncertain that the Bond's plan for Greenacres School represents the best investment of the community's resources. The League recognizes that the Bond's proposed project for Greenacres School would realize some long-awaited improvements and address some of the District's stated educational, health and safety goals for that building; however, the League has concerns that key spatial, health and safety needs are not being adequately addressed.

Recommendations
In order to produce a bond that maintains and enhances Scarsdale educational excellence in a fiscally responsible way that is in the best interests of the community, the League believes that the Board should implement an improved bond process that:

  • Begins with more timely, effective and thorough outreach to identify broad community values and priorities;
  • Articulates a clear vision as to the purpose of the bond;
  • Presents to the community a coherent picture of what our buildings need in order to 
preserve and enhance a high quality Scarsdale education, including sharing with the 
community the District's benchmarking method and results;
  • Develops the bond as part of a long-range facilities plan that provides a framework 
for the future of all of the schools; and
  • Is collaborative and builds community consensus from the ground-up. 


The League believes these process recommendations align with the Board's statements highlighting the importance of acting in partnership with the community. We agree that a successful bond process and proposal that makes sense for our community requires us to work together. To this end, a bond process must ensure that we all start from the same place and proceed forward together in a methodical manner, with a shared understanding of the basic underlying assumptions and overall District goals and educational values driving the process that a proposed facilities bond would address.

Conclusion 

While the League does not support this Bond, we support investment in our school facilities and a collaborative bond process that builds community consensus from the ground-up and results in a shared long-range vision for maintaining and enhancing our excellent Scarsdale schools.

The Bond vote will take place on Thursday, February 8, 2018 from 7 am to 9 pm at the Scarsdale Middle School. Information on how to register to vote and/or to obtain an absentee ballot is available by clicking either the "New Bond Website" link on the homepage of the District website (www.scarsdaleschools.org) or the "Voter Information" tab on our League website (www.lwvs.org). 
Respectfully submitted, 
Mary Beth Evans, Chair, School Bond Study Committee Linda Doucette-Ashman and Janice Starr, Co-Presidents League of Women Voters of Scarsdale

BLOG COMMENTS POWERED BY DISQUS

Good Work

SETTING

SHS Senior Sends Books to South Africa

SHS Senior Sends Books to South Africa

Soon to be senior at Scarsdale High School Zach Hoexter has undertaken an ambitious project to bring books to children in South Africa. L...

Read More

Around Town

SETTING

Shake Shack to Open on Central Avenue Plus More Retail News

Shake Shack to Open on Central Avenue Plus More Retail News

Though many people are out of town, we took a trip around town to see what August had to hold.

First, we noticed that a large Shake Shack ...

Read More

Neighborhood News

SETTING

LimeBikes Show Up On Scarsdale Streets

LimeBikes Show Up On Scarsdale Streets

Have you seen any green and yellow bikes on sidewalks or lawns around town? It turns out that LimeBike is testing their dockless bikes in...

Read More

On Our Minds

SETTING

Iceland: the New Frontier in Travel

Iceland: the New Frontier in Travel

If you’re looking for a new frontier to explore, a country with a beautiful city and even more breathtaking landscapes, plus a noticeably...

Read More

On Our Radar

SETTING

Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments Appeals Justice Tolbert's Ruling on the Article 78

Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments Appeals Justice Tolbert's Ruling on the Article 78

The Scarsdale Committee for Fair Assessments is making another attempt to win their Article 78 proceeding asking that the Village of Scar...

Read More

Parenting

SETTING

Off to College: Advice for Parents of College Freshman

Off to College: Advice for Parents of College Freshman

With move-in day just weeks away, many parents will soon be taking their college freshman to college and then leaving them there on their...

Read More

Village Voices

SETTING

New Restaurants Opening and Infrastructure Improvements in Process: News from the Village Board

New Restaurants Opening and Infrastructure Improvements in Process: News from the Village Board

Despite the dog days of summer, Scarsdale continues to move ahead, as reported at this week’s board of trustees meeting.

In his remarks, S...

Read More

Shout it Out

SETTING

Procedure Committee Calls for Comments on Proposed Changes to the Non-Partisan Resolution

Procedure Committee Calls for Comments on Proposed Changes to the Non-Partisan Resolution

This letter was sent to Scarsdale10583 by Madelaine Eppenstein and Eric Cheng from the Procedure Committee :

To the Editor:

The Procedure Co...

Read More

School News

SETTING

Advice on Standardized Testing from a Recent Scarsdale Grad

Advice on Standardized Testing from a Recent Scarsdale Grad

As the new school year approaches, many students are beginning to contemplate a dreaded part of high school: standardized testing. In thi...

Read More

Schools

SETTING

Update on the Greenacres Renovation

Update on the Greenacres Renovation

Several people noted some drilling underway at Greenacres Elementary School around July 4 and asked us to follow up with the district for...

Read More

The Goods

SETTING

Crickets, Collagen and Cauliflower: Food Trends of the Year

Crickets, Collagen and Cauliflower: Food Trends of the Year

Early this summer I attended the 2018 Fancy Food Show in Manhattan to learn about current and upcoming food trends and sampled so much th...

Read More

Real Estate

SETTING

Year to Date Home Sales Figures Plus Open Houses and Featured Listings

Year to Date Home Sales Figures Plus Open Houses and Featured Listings

Another banner week for Scarsdale home sales, with 14 closings in all, three above $3 million and two above $2 million. Check out these bi...

Read More

Today's News

SETTING

Electrical Fire Breaks Out in Murray Hill Road Kitchen

Electrical Fire Breaks Out in Murray Hill Road Kitchen

An electrical fire broke out in the kitchen of a Murray Hill Road house. Firefighters were called to the scene by an automatic fire alarm...

Read More

Arts and Entertainment

SETTING

A Mid East Feast For All The Senses At Fez Turkish Meze

A Mid East Feast For All The Senses At Fez Turkish Meze

Do the words grape leaves, pomegranate molasses, sumac, pine nuts, kibbeh, tabbouleh and baklava make your taste buds sing? If they do, p...

Read More

People

SETTING

Julius Reich Sentenced to 20 Years for Stabbing Death of Robin Goldman

Julius Reich Sentenced to 20 Years for Stabbing Death of Robin Goldman

( From the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office ) Westchester County District Attorney Anthony A. Scarpino, Jr. announced on 8-15-...

Read More

first
  
last
 
 
start
stop

Programs for Scarsdale Kids