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choiceScarsdale Middle School’s CHOICE program has often been celebrated for its inherently unique and independent nature. Yet a few months ago, the district announced that the CHOICE program would be moving into the interior of the middle school. Although the program will be moving merely a couple hundred feet, the implications on the student body are sure to run deeper.

CHOICE has been based in a former estate carriage house on the outskirts of the main middle school building for years. However the building is nearly 100 years old and is no longer compliant with ADA standards. The building also lacks a bathroom, so students regularly have to leave CHOICE to find a bathroom in the main building. If the CHOICE program were to continue as usual, the district would be faced with extremely expensive repairs and upgrades to the building.

In lieu of these repairs, the district chose to move CHOICE into two connected classrooms (the seventh grade health room and the speech room) and the Makerspace in the lower center.

There are many reservations about CHOICE’s move. “A big thing all Choice students are concerned with is having a space they feel like is their own. When we were in a separate building that was easy to accomplish. That will be the most difficult part to replicate when we move to the main building,” said Cynthia Parrott, CHOICE’S math teacher and Teacher-in-Charge.

Seventh grader Harrison Lambert commented that at first, many students felt confused and upset over the change. “The CHOICE building feels like our home now… you can tell how relaxed and used to the building that everyone is, and it’s sad to leave,” said Lambert.

However, the move will certainly bring many social and educational benefits for the students in CHOICE.

Lambert noted that better integrating CHOICE into the main building would help with the social transition to high school. “In the eighth grade, many of the kids say that ‘I’m moving into the high school and I’m not that good friends with people in the main building’ … it’s important for us to make stronger connections with the people in the building because if you’re only friends with the other 23 people in CHOICE, then there’s not even that good of a chance that you’ll get into many of the same classes as them in high school,’” said Lambert.

CHOICE will takeover the current makerspace --a newly finished technology room: filled with computers, iPads, laptops, soldering irons, and other technology tools. Given CHOICE’s emphasis on hands-on learning as well as science and math, further access to this space will prove invaluable.

Having all CHOICE classrooms in such close proximity to each other will enable the teachers to maintain the program’s close-knit community. The district is also in the process of planning a removable wall between the two classrooms CHOICE plans to take over “so we can have a large space for full group experiences that happen almost daily,” said Parrott.

New furniture and equipment has already been ordered to suit the needs of CHOICE’s unique Science and Humanities programs, and other renovation ideas are still in the process of being discussed. Parrott noted that many of these renovation suggestions came directly from students: a true testament to the collaborative environment within CHOICE. “Between the Choice students and the staff, we have some great ideas to make the space fit the program so much more effectively than our current small building does,” said Parrott.

DSC02343Chris Riback, Jennifer Palmieri and SAS Director Jill SerlingWhy did Hillary lose the election, how did Trump dominate the media and what does this mean for female contenders in the future? Author and communications strategist Jennifer Palmieri answered these questions and more in a live interview at Scarsdale Middle School on Thursday June 7, with questions posed by Scarsdale’s own Chris Riback, a journalist and host of the popular podcast Political Wire Conversations.

Palmieri was in town to promote the publication of her book, Dear Madam President: An Open Letter to Women Who Will Rule the World, written in the wake of the 2016 presidential election when Palmieri served as the Director of Communications for Clinton’s campaign. The book is described as, “an empowering letter to the first woman president, and by extension, to all women working to succeed in any field.” Palmieri said her book says, “what a lot of us were thinking but had not said out loud.” She said she wrote the book for the women in their early 20’s we were on the campaign. She wanted them to know that their efforts mattered, that they can make a difference and that women’s perspectives matter.DSC02336Palmieri takes questions from the audience

Riback asked her directly, why Clinton was not the first female president and Palmieri mused, “It was not just one factor …. if Jim Comey had not sent the letter... I wonder how much of this was just fate …. a racist and misogynist on a collision course with the candidate to be the first women president.” She said, “Let’s put forward the most qualified woman who has ever run against the least qualified man who has ever run.”

She called the election “a reckoning” and a “backlash against Obama,” when “voters’ frustrations whirled up to the surface.”

Palmieri reflected on the difficulty of electing a woman as president. About Hillary she said, “her personal scars mattered.” Palmieri explained, “She spent 40 years stepping outside of the role woman had played. She always challenged us, vexed us and confounded us. We didn’t know what to make of her.” Over and over Palmieri heard comments like “There’s something about her I just don’t like --- there’s something about her I just don’t trust.”

DSC02346Suzanne Seiden chats with Palmieri and gets her signed copy of the book.Palmieri concluded that some voters were simply suspicious of women and uneasy with ambitious women and used that as an excuse not to elect Clinton.

What message does this send to female candidates in the future? Palmieri advised women to “speak up,” and warned that if they don’t, they rob the world of their perspectives.

She advised women, who sometimes lack confidence, that they are good enough. About herself, Palmieri says, “I was intimidated by the job that I had. I feared that I was not the best person for the job. But we’re all just human – no one is up to the task – but you are good enough.” She said that Hillary taught her to get up each day and do the best you can with what you have to do that day. Live moment by moment and don’t let anxiety and dread overwhelm you.

As to why Trump is able to capture the news cycle, Palmieri said, “The reason he is able tDear Madam President book covero dominate is that he is willing to say outrageous things … crazy shit. He blows himself up everyday and dominates the news coverage. She added, “Trump’s strategy is to pit people against each other. The antidote is a democrat nominee who listens and bring people together.”

The audience was engaged in the conversation and enthusiastic about Palmieri’s book. They formed a long line at the end of the presentation to meet her and purchase a signed copy. The evening was hosted by the Scarsdale Adult School.

Robin Hood Lemonaid 2On Saturday, June 9th, Scarsdale kids, teens, and families will take a stand against poverty by setting up 'Robin Hood Lemonaid' stands around Scarsdale to raise funds for New Yorkers in need and support Robin Hood, New York’s largest-poverty fighting organization. Every penny raised will fund food pantries, soup kitchens, and other emergency food providers throughout the five boroughs. 

Robin Hood Lemonaid 5Robin Hood, founded 30 years ago, is today one of the nation's largest anti-poverty organizations and is focused on fighting poverty in New York by supporting over 200 community partners that provide education, food, shelter, healthcare, job training, legal support, and other services for people in poverty.

Scarsdale is part of a regional effort started more than 10 years ago, in which some of the tri-state's youngest poverty fighters have raised more than $1 million through the Lemonaid program and provided more than 800,000 meals to New Yorkers in need.

This years Robin Hood Lemonaid - Scarsdale Co-Hosts are:

The Bezos Family
The Brucker Family
The Goldfarb Family
The Hirschhorn Family
The Jahrmarkt Family
The Kass Family
The Kleinberg Family
The Lefkowitz Family
The Meyers Family
The Miller Family
The Neustadt Family
The Plattus Family
The Schwartz Family
The Wach Family 

Robin Hood Lemonaid 3About Lemonaid, Mark Bezos said, “Robin Hood's Lemonaid program has become a tradition in our family. For the past twelve years, our kids have set up lemonade stands with their friends around town to raise money for Robin Hood while having a great time. When my kids were younger, the Lemonaid program provided a wonderful conversation starter about helping our neighbors in need. It's also a great reminder that all efforts - big and small - can make a difference.”

After a day of selling glasses of lemonade to their friends and neighbors, all participants will be invited to a community BBQ to celebrate their efforts and count the money they raised to fight poverty.

Photos courtesy of Robin Hood. 
Robin Hood Lemonaid 4Robin Hood Lemonaid

greenacres movie nightThe Greenacres Outdoor Big Screen Movie Night scheduled for tonight, Sunday June 10, has been postponed to Friday, June 29 at 8:30 PM at Greenacres Field due to the rain. Hope to see everyone then!

You may soon be able to use a state of the art parking app to feed the parking meter, making the need for a roll quarters a thing of the past. The Village recently completed a test of four different types of meters, but ultimately decided that these new meters did not warrant the expense.

Throughout fall of 2017 and winter of 2018, you may have noticed some new parking meters in the village center of Scarsdale. Specifically, four different types of meters were set up: two single/double meters, and two multi space meters.

Meter 1

Option 1 (Orange) was a single space smart meter that could take coins or credits made by IPS.
Option 2 (Yellow) was made by POM and optimized so that some of its meters could handle two spots in a single meter, and users would press a button to indicate which spot they parked in.
Option 3 (Blue) was a multispace paystation made by T2.
Option 4 (Green) was a multispace paystation made by MacKay.

16 traditional parking meters were established as a control group against which to gauge a baseline revenue expectation for the new test meters. These 16 control meters’ revenue was compared to revenue from 16 parking spots of each test meter. The control meters had an approximate monthly revenue of $3,000. Option 1 earned the most revenue with an average of $3286.19 a month, while option 2 earned less revenue at an average of $2902.25 a month likely due to reported user confusion for the double meters. Option 3 scored third in revenue at an average of $2821.95 a month but experienced some downtime in revenue collection due to a battery configuration issue. Option 4 scored last in revenue at an average of $2132.16 a month but also experienced operational downtime due to a service issue.

Meter 2Placement of the Test Meters in the Village CenterA survey was established to gather community input on the different meters, and asked users questions relating to ease of use, functionality, and aesthetics. Of the 304 accepted responses, the vast majority responded favorably to option 1. Possible opposition to option 2 came from the difficulty in using the double meters. Options three and four were the two multi space meter options, and were among the least popular likely due to having to wait on a line, being forced to use the pay station in the rain/snow without a shelter, and/or various operational issues, including credit card payment issues, broken pay stations, and confusing instructions. The single and double meters, however, also faced some operational issues including broken meters and coin blockages. Among the most common comments on the survey were “broken”, “unattractive”, “No pay stations”, “inconvenient”, “overpayment”, and “confusing”. It should also be noted, however, that due to the nature of this survey, a strong voluntary response bias may have occurred where only patrons who were dissatisfied with their parking experience responded, and the responses may not reflect the views of the majority of Scarsdalians.

One of the key features of the new meters was the ability to use a credit card. A $1 minimum parking fee was established due to the number of fees associated with using a credit card, including the statement and gateway fees. This resulted in many credit card users being forced to overpay for their parking. These credit card processing fees would cost the village an additional $40,500-$89,100 a year depending on the average blended transaction fee.Screen Shot 2018 05 24 at 11.02.57 AMThe Most Popular Meter Rated In The Survey

Another consideration of the study involved the potential implementation of a mobile app for either the new or existing meters. 33% of survey respondents reported already having a parking app on their phone. Parking app users would be able to pay for their parking on the phone, allowing them to avoid refilling their meter in the harsh weather outside. The app can be implemented with or without smart meters, however, the violation flag will not change on a non-smart meter even if a user paid via the app. Police officers will be able to see who paid electronically via an app if smart meters are not introduced, and proof of payment is usually provided in the app in case of an enforcement error. However this could cause a lot of confusion among user who pay but still see a violation notice on the meter when they return to their car.

Additionally, the village will have the freedom to decide whether the user or the village will pick up the credit card transaction fees when implemented. Generally speaking, however, most communities cover the transaction fees, while the user picks up a convenience fee that is paid to the app (usually ranging from $0.20 to $0.35). In a neighboring Westchester community, parking app usage is on the upswing, with 5% of all parking purchases made via an app in December 2016 and 16% of purchases made via an app by February 2018.

The board has decided at this time not move forward with the implementation of a new smart meter or paystation due to the various issues voiced by community members and cost of purchasing the new meters. The board, however, also decided to pursue an app to provide options to people who park in Scarsdale without implementing a smart meter or paystation. The village will soon begin to investigate different parking apps so Scarsdale residents can have the best possible parking experience moving forward.

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