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Last updateWed, 18 Jul 2018 7am

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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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FieldRenderingScarsdale10583 received the following correction from Mackenzie Austin of USGreentech regarding our previous article about the properties of coated sand infill that is used in sythetic turf:

Here is what she wrote:

Envirofill 11.“Has a strong odor”
Envirofill is odorless and is also infused with Microban technology which is an antimicrobial that inhibits the growth of bacteria, mold and mildew that can cause odors. We would be happy to send you a sample to “sniff it out” for yourself.

2. “Sand may compact”
While this may be true of angular sands like you find at the beach or a sand box, Envirofill is different. It’s core is made from a unique sand that is mined in Texas and is some of the roundest sand in the world. I have a attached a few close up photos of the product so you can see for yourself.

3. “Coated sand must be taken to a landfill”
As a company, we are dedicated to sustainability and that is one of the main factors we consider when developing and promoting products. Envirofill is able to be used for two turf lifecycles and has a 16 year warranty. We’re confident the durability will last even longer than 16 years, but once the product needs removed, we are able to take back the Envirofill and reclaim it to use it again. This means it should never end up in a landfill. We have a video outlining this feature of our product. This is wonderful for the environment but can also help field owner’s save on cost over the years. 

USGreentech is the provider of Envirofill, a coated sand infill used in synthetic turf systems and their mission is to: Create Better Turf Systems Together.

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ChrisWelshChris Welsh will become an Assistant Principal at Scarsdale High School in July.Christopher Welsh will join the administrative team as an Assistant Principal at Scarsdale High School in July. In an effort to learn more about him, we asked him the following questions and here is what he shared:

Please tell us about your education and prior experience.

I hold a Bachelor’s Degree from Fordham University with a major in Political Science and a minor in Business Administration. I received a Master’s Degree of Science in Teaching - Adolescent Social Studies, also from Fordham University. Lastly, I completed a Master’s Degree of Science in Education - Administration and Supervision, also from Fordham University.

I have worked at Pleasantville High School for the past 8 years. For the first 6 years, I served as a Social Studies/Special Education teacher, with assignments ranging from Resource Room to Advanced Placement Government and Politics. I then took on the role of Curriculum Coordinator while still maintaining a reduced teaching load. This year I concurrently served as the Coordinator of Student Services and Curriculum Coordinator, while no longer serving as a classroom teacher. I work closely with building administration on a wide variety of long term projects and the day to day operation of the school.

What were some of the curricular initiatives that you implemented or managed during your tenure?

I have served as the point person for our transition to the Microsoft 365 platform, which has required a significant amount of time for professional development. I have worked with the technology committee to develop our Tech 4 All program, where all 5th and 9th grade students will receive a convertible 2 in 1 computer. I spent a great deal of time working with a team to explore Active Learning spaces. I chaired a committee to explore block scheduling. I run the new teacher mentor program at the high school.

What was your role as Coordinator of Student Services? What did that involve?

The biggest responsibilities in this position have been Grade Reporting and Master Scheduling. Essentially, the position has allowed me to work closely with our Principal and Assistant Principal on circumstances related to teaching and learning as they arise.

What were some of the challenges of your previous position?

There has certainly been a learning curve for our staff as we have rolled out lots of new technology. The professional development demands often came into conflict with some of our other curricular programs. I think any time an organization which has experienced success tries to initiate change, there is a natural tendency to question the motivation. We have tried to overcome some of these difficulties by providing ongoing support, gathering feedback, and working collaboratively to ensure the needs of our students are met.

What are some of the differences between Pleasantville and Scarsdale?

The biggest difference is clearly the size of the schools. Scarsdale has about three times the number of students and teachers as Pleasantville. So it will certainly take a bit more time to get to know everyone, but that is certainly one of my first priorities. Otherwise, I think there are quite a number of similarities in terms of both being involved and supportive communities with high expectations.

What will be your role at SHS?

I will serve as the Assistant Principal for Academics and Operations, which involves work around schedule development, academic policy, and budgeting to name some the larger responsibilities. In general, I view myself as someone who will support students in any way I can.

What are you looking forward to in the new position? And when do you start?

I am extremely excited to become a part of such a wonderful community of learning. From my brief interactions, the students appear self-motivated and mature, the faculty is dedicated and cares deeply about their students, and the administration is top notch. Mr. Bonamo and his team have welcomed me with open arms, and are committed to helping my transition to SHS be seamless. I can’t say enough good things about Mr. Renino, who I am replacing, as he continues to offer support and guidance. My official start date is July 1, 2018.

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A school grad 7Warm weather and cheerful spirits made Scarsdale High School’s Alternative School graduation an even more special event for the graduating class of 2018. On Friday, June 15, friends and family of the 28 graduates attended the outdoor ceremony held at the A-School. A-School advisor Jennifer Maxwell welcomed all who attended, and recognized Superintendent Thomas Hagerman, School Board President William Natbony, and SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo, who showed their support at the event. Bonamo then spoke, addressing the graduating seniors and commenting on the unique nature of the A-School.

Due to the small graduating class size and the sense of community the school embodies, each student was individually recognized with a speech from their advisor highlighting the special qualities the student brought to the school and how they've grown throughout their years as a high school student. Each senior was presented with a personalized gift from two underclassmen whom they've formed relationships with in the past years. The ceremony closed with a speech from Senior Zachary Friedman, who spoke about the significance school and its impact. The emotional ceremony brought smiles and tears to the students as their three-year experience came to an end.

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Maggie in the gardenIn her 25 years at Scarsdale High School, Maggie Favretti evolved from being a traditional teacher in front of a classroom to designing a project based learning curriculum that is now modeled by other teachers and other schools. A passionate educator, she taught her students to learn by doing, rather than listening, and to craft novel solutions to real world problem.

So, how did Favretti wind up teaching at SHS? After graduating from Yale University, majoring in art history, minoring in history, and tripling up in student teaching, with a teaching certificate, she was paired with Eric Rothschild, an SHS teacher, to be her mentor in part of Yale’s teaching program. After teaching for two summers at Taft School, a boarding school, she decided she wanted to teach in a public school. For Favretti, who teaches with an immense amount of emotional intensity, boarding school was just too exhausting. After receiving job offers from private schools including Taft, she called Eric for guidance who told her there was an opening at Scarsdale. Favretti took the job and stayed at Scarsdale for two years, then moved to Middlebury to teach, only to move back to Scarsdale eight years later.

What makes Favretti such a prized teacher at SHS is her passion for learning and her teaching philosophy. A large part of this philosophy is that collaboration between teachers is necessary for success.

As a 22 year-old, the youngest in the department by 15 years, with no masters degree and very little experience, the entire department collectively mentored her. “It was a much better experience than what new teachers have now,” she remarked. In her opinion, although the mentor program is wonderful, she believes it leads other teachers to be less inclined to mentor and help the new teachers. “Teaching is collaborative,” said Favretti, “reflective teachers are normally good teachers because they are constantly thinking about their practice and how to do it better… they are constantly asking their colleagues what they think.” She believes that relationships between department heads and teachers should be less evaluative and more collaborative, as it was for her. When Favretti first started, she looked to the department chair as her mentor and had a very open relationship with him.

Favretti has team taught almost her entire career, and relies on others to be successful. In both City 2.0 and the STEAM programs, students must collaborate with each other in projects in order to be successful, a methodology that Favretti has used throughout her entire career.

A key to Favretti’s teaching philosophy is her belief that teaching should occur inside and outside the classroom.

Favretti is also passionate about the way students are educated. “I have always believed in student centered education but also student ownership of education,” she said. According to Favretti, because of technology, the demands and expectations of the world are constantly changing. She believes that education must be interdisciplinary in order to cater to this rapidly changing world. “Everyday you hear about how young people are using those technologies and social media to solve really complex problems… this is where they are putting it all together,” using problems like climate change, and how to create an equitable city as examples. “Currently, school is opposite to interdisciplinary,” noted Favretti. She added that the school is still operating in a model that was formed 100 years ago and is not equipped for the way the world works today. Since the kids she teaches today are going to be the business and world leaders of the future, she believes it is necessary to adapt schooling to prepare students for the challenges ahead.

Favretti has already implemented programs to push SHS forward in modernizing education. One way she has done this is by implementing a City 2.0 class. In this class, students learn the true meaning of an interdisciplinary class as they help solve the biggest problems facing Scarsdale, New York, and even the country. “Students feel a huge disconnect between what they’re doing and the world,” said Favretti. Favretti combats student’s tendency to “get it done and get a grade,” rather than do something that matters. She stressed, “Schooling has to be about purpose… students won't engage unless what they’re learning has real world accountability.” Favretti continually referred to Ted Dintersmith’s book, “What School Could Be,” in which Dintersmith shares many of Favretti’s concerns. The struggle to keep students passionate about education and keep topics relevant prompted her to launch the City 2.0 program four years ago. See how City 2.0 allows students to respond to real world situations here

This philosophy is also what why Favretti, along with Lisa Yokana, got involved in implementing a STEAM program at SHS. For Favretti, this program is another way to stimulate innovation for students. According to Favretti, this program has been rapidly growing all over the world, “they have to be able to do something other than take tests and get good grades,” she said. This program helps kids learn to view failure as a part of the learning process, not as just something negative.

Favretti is also very passionate about climate change and wishes to “create a global network of college students networking and working against climate change so they can act and innovate in their hometowns”. This love of nature also prompted her to start the garden club and plant and maintain an impressive vegetable garden at the school. Here she is able to share her passion for gardening with fellow students and help the school achieve sustainability. In August 2014, she was even invited to the White House to recieve an Honorable Mention for the Presidential Innovation in Environmental Education Award. Read more about it here

Even though Favretti has grown as an educator and thoroughly enjoyed her experience teaching at Scarsdale, she is retiring early to pursue a new path. Professionally, Favretti wants to continue her work on educating kids for a changing world. She wants to bring these ideas into communities that are facing challenges, so education can solve these problems. She traveled to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria to work with the state education department to rebuild communities. Learn more about the impact Favretti had during her trip to Puerto Rico in our previous article

She says she met “amazing people” and witnessed how with a little guidance, children could solve real world problems. She hopes to share the City 2.0 curriculum with other schools and use it to help students solve problems in their own communities. In her retirement, Favretti hopes to continue to help communities like the one she visited in Puerto Rico to expand education, build back better and form more resilient communities.

In her future work, Favretti is hoping to change the meaning of a diploma, and offer credit for work beyond sitting in class. This may mean continuing her work with STEAM programs and other programs similar to City 2.0 worldwide.

While teaching in Scarsdale, Favretti has lived apart from her husband who is a photographer for the U.S. Coast Guard in Connecticut. She now commutes on the weekends visit him and is excited that she will be able to spend more time with him and her daughter after she retires.

Favretti has created a lasting impact on not only the people at SHS, but also on the school’s curriculum and has designed courses that are at the forefront of new trends in education. While she will be missed in the halls, her work at SHS will live on through the students and teachers of the future.

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