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You are here: Home Section Table School News Board of Ed Elects New Leaders and Approves Synthetic Turf for Butler Field
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Board of Ed Elects New Leaders and Approves Synthetic Turf for Butler Field

BOE2018The 2018-19 Board of Education: Left to Right: Bill Natbony, Alison Singer, Nina Cannon, Scott Silberfein, Chris Morin, Pam Fuehrer and Lee MaudeScott Silberfein and Pamela Fuehrer were sworn in as President and Vice President of the Scarsdale School Board at an early morning meeting on Tuesday July 10, and newly elected board member Alison Singer was welcomed to the table.

Silberfein took the leadership position from former President Bill Natbony who has one year remaining on the board and will continue to serve. Silberfein was nominated by Board member Lee Maude who called him a quintessential volunteer and a doer with the intellect to be an outstanding president. Fuehrer was nominated by Board member Nina Cannon who said Fuehrer was a “careful listener, critical thinker and measured speaker who gives “careful thought toward expressing her viewpoints.” She said Fuehrer “will use her experience and approachable nature for using our limited but important role in setting policy for this district.”

Flood in District Offices

Dr. Hagerman reported that a burst pipe had caused a flood in the central district office and said it had been “quite an ordeal.” The staff is sharing offices while the clean up progresses.

Goals

The Board had a general discussion about setting goals for the coming year. Board member Chris Morin called for the board to “set more robust goals” and to use board or advisory committees to pursue ambitious goals.” He said, “We should tie our goals together into a vision. We should do more benchmarking.” He said the Board had committed to do more advocacy a year ago but did not follow through.

Nina Cannon said, “I generally feel that the idea of a committee is laudatory, but finding time to meet is a challenge. I don’t know how everyone feels about our ability to schedule regular meetings in addition to all our liaison committees.”

Alison Singer asked the Board to model wellness for the community. She said, “I was surprised that you would sit here for four hours without taking a break. I think the new water cooler is a good step,” and she asked for the Board to take a break every two hours to stand up.

Lee Maude said, “Two years ago we had these portfolio meetings – in retrospect those should have been open to the public. If we do set up board committees, they should be public.”

Engagement

Bill Natbony called for the Board to do more to engage the public, especially the seniors who represent 50% of the population and bring a lot of professional experience. He suggested they be invited to music and art performances and to participate in after school clubs or activities. He also suggested community coffees to give residents the opportunity to express themselves.

The Board then discussed all the liaison meetings they attend to see if these remained relevant and useful.

Letters

Also discussed was the possibility of sharing the content of the letters from the public the Board receives at the Board meetings. Morin suggested that the Board provide a substantive review of the letters that are received. Alison Singer suggested that a board member could provide a summary of the written comments, with a sentence about each and provide an “opportunity for the community to hear them.” She said, “it also makes commenters feel that their letters are being considered.”

Dr. Hagerman asked, “How does this differ from what we do now where we report this in our agenda?” He said, “What if someone says this has a chilling effect and they don’t’ want their opinion shared?

The Board then discussed the possibility of delineating private from public comments and how best to do this. However there appeared to be general agreement that the content of letters sent to the Board should be shared with the community at meetings.

Election Procedure:

Also raised was the issue of changing the law regulating how Board members are elected. Current law calls for Board members to run for particular seats and can be confusing if there are challenges. Rather than selecting the winners based on those who receive the highest number of total votes, winners are selected by seat.

The issue arose in May when Pam Fuehrer ran as an independent candidate when she was not re-nominated by the SBNC. Rather than challenge Alison Singer who was running for Fuehrer’s own seat, Fuehrer chose to challenge Woodrow Crouch who was running for the seat formerly held by Art Rublin. The process was confusing to voters.

Chris Morin said, “I support discussing it and amending it. It is a very confusing policy for voters. “ Singer said, “I think it’s timely to take this up this year. It’s confusing as to why it differs from the Village policy.”

Butler Field and Track Renovations

The Board reviewed and ultimately approved construction of a turf field with EPDM infill and will include a shock pad, replace the goal posts, replace the track and include safety netting at a cost of $1,349,778. With a 20% contingency and administrative fees, the total is estimated at $1,712,869.

The question at the meeting was whether or not to also authorize $271,566 for track and field improvements including the steeple chase which would allow the district to host one day meets and provide an enhanced environment for track and field teams and competition.

These funds would include improvement for the long jump, discus, shot put as well as track surfacing and drainage.

The Board discussed whether or not these should be alternate costs or included as one bid with the field work. Chris Morin said, “I don’t like identifying them as alternates. If these are priorities they are worth doing now. If they are not priorities we should not be looking into doing them. I would like to remove these as alternates and include them as part of the project.”

Nina Cannon said, “if we are going to do the work, we should do it all, and we should do it now. We budgeted $1.9 – if these come in higher, where would these funds come from? Has Maroon and White expressed a desire to be a part of this if we can’t cover it? Given our experience with bidding, are we comfortable with these numbers?”

Assistant Superintendent Mattey responded, saying, “As one base bid, it might come in higher – due to contingencies. If there are overruns, monies from teaching would have to be transferred. By going out for bid in late August, we can try to do the work in the fall, but we are dependent on the temperature.”

Ultimately the Board voted to approve the field work and the track items to bid as alternates.

They also agreed to a resolution to extend the district’s lease for the field, which is owned by Scarsdale Village, to June 30, 2031.

Charitable Gift Reserve

Following in the footsteps of the Village, the Board of Education agreed to establish a Charitable Education Fund to allow residents to remit their school taxes as a charitable donation to the district. Contributions to the Fund may entitle taxpayers a deduction of up to 95% of those payments as a charitable donation write-off, rather than a property tax deduction, which would not be subject to the $10,000 limitation established for SALT. The program is optional.

Administrators cautioned that it is unknown whether the IRS will challenge the practice and advised residents to consult their tax advisors.

They also passed a resolution to authorize the Village of Scarsdale as the “collection officer” for the school district. The District will pay the Village 25% of the 5% fee balance remaining in the Fund for each District tax bill payment processed through the Fund and tax credit, up to a total of $33,525. the District will pay the Village 25% of the 5% fee balance remaining in the Fund for each District tax bill payment processed through the Fund and tax credit, up to a total of $33,525.

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be September 17, 2018

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