Monday, Feb 26th

Administration Proposes 8.9 Additional Full Time Staffers for 2024-25 School Year

staffingrec2024 25The Board of Education meeting on 1/22 (that was rescheduled because of a snow day on 1/8), was chock full of information regarding staffing recommendations, proposed school calendars, and more. Here are some of the highlights:

Budget Presentation/Staffing Recommendations:

Overall student enrollment is projected to go up by just 29 students from 4,703 this year to 4,732 for the 2024-25 school year. However, primarily due to the rise in the number of special education students and an initiative to keep them in district rather than placeing them out of district, the administration is proposing the addition of 8.9 full time staffing positions, bringing the staff count from 483.4 to 491.7, which would be the largest staffing figure in the past ten years. For context, in 2014-15 when there were 4,821 students,almost 100 students more than is projected for next year, the overall staff number was 436.

projected staffing

Dr. Drew Patrick explained that the budget planning process keeps in mind the District’s mission which, “...seeks to sponsor each student’s full development, enabling our youth to be effective and independent contributors in a democratic society and an interdependent world.”

The development process also considers factors such as school district organization and program drivers like effective class sizes, professional development, student and staff safety, and special education.

Patrick emphasized five key points that are considered when vetting proposed staffing:

-Educational Efficacy : A measurable positive impact on the educational lives of students.

-Student Educational Outcomes and Achievement Commitment to teaching and learning initiatives that Connect our WIDE Community and advance the elements of the Strategic Plan goals.

-Mandates and Best Practices; Thoughtful and contextual observance of internal and external mandates, and promotion of goal-aligned best practices. Examples include: Elementary class size guidelines, special education programming along the continuum of service.

-Strategic Planning & Educational Priorities

-Staffing Efficiencies and Financial Impact

After highlighting the budgeting process timeline and key budget influencers, administrators went on to discuss the staffing requests and recommendations for the 2024-2025 school year which you can see here.

In total there are 8.9 FTE, Tier I additional staffing recommendations for the 2024-2025 school year. Some were driven by a rise in the number of special education students and the increase in the number of students qualifying for 504’s and IEPs.. This year there are 45 sections of special education classes and next year that number is projected to rise to 54 sections. An increased number of special education students will be moving on to the middle school and ultimately to the high school. The district is working to keep more of these students in district and has done a phased in approach starting with elementary school.

The staffing requests include:

-2.0 Special Education teachers at SMS because of an increase in the number of special education classes.

-1.0 Special Education teacher at SHS. This special education teacher would begin the work of creating a continuum of services that will allow the school to provide an appropriate education for non-diploma bound students who are currently in middle and elementary schools, while also doing helping manage the increase in IEPs and 504s in our two level classes.

-High School Math Staffing (.5 FTE). Rationale: This position will be a .5 math (financial literacy and Multivariable Calculus). They are proposing two new courses for September 2024: Financial Literacy and AT Multivariable Calculus which this .5 FTE would support. They have seen an increase in the number of students taking more than one math course: In 2023 - 2024, 180 students are enrolled in 2 or 3 math courses simultaneously compared to 155 in 2022-23.

-1.0 District-wide Special Education Administrator. Rationale: The growth of the programs and leadership required to supervise program implementation and development, manage caseloads, and attend to multiple complex and time-intensive cases requires additional staffing. The proposed 1.0 FTE addition would allow for the following reorganization and enhanced leadership benefits

0.2 Clerical - Fox Meadow. Rationale: Fox Meadow has an increased need in the office to support the increased enrollment (481) with 24 sections. They are requesting an increase of 0.2 to our office assistant (currently a 0.8 FTE with benefits) to accommodate the growing population by answering phones, assisting the secretary to the principal; arrival and dismissal; parent engagement, etc. This will bring Fox Meadow into parity with Quaker Ridge.

10-month Special Education clerical to 12-month ($8,000). Currently, the Special Education office is supported by a 10-month clerk during the school year and intern support during the summer months. This 12 month position would allow for continuity of support and consistency in the office. The cost for the position would be $8,000. The intern support would no longer be needed in the office with the change to a 12 month employee. Given the high volume and confidential nature of the special education program, this consistency would ensure that student and family needs are being met throughout the entire calendar year.

After the presentation, board members asked questions. Some members wondered why the request for an additional Freshman Team of 3.0 FTE was made a Tier II recommendation (a request not recommended at this time but merits study for the future), arguing that students and our community would greatly benefit from having one more dean at the high school. Many of the BOE members were hopeful that a deeper study of the situation could possibly produce some sort of solution such as a phased-in approach…where perhaps we hire another dean and then hire the other two requested teachers in subsequent years.

During the Public Comment portion of the evening, Scarsdale resident Art Rublin voiced his support for hiring a freshman team because he believes it would greatly benefit the students (especially the 30 to 45 students who want to take Civ Ed but are turned away because there isn’t enough room). He also believes that the smaller class sizes afforded by having another freshman team would improve the students’ sense of well-being, especially in light of the current college admissions landscape.

For a more in depth look at the Budget Development and Staffing Presentation, please see this link

Staffing1

School Board Nominations

JessicaResnick AultJessica Resnick-Ault will not seek a second term.Jessica Resnick-Ault announced that she will not be seeking re-election following the completion of her first three year term on the School Board. She said that “although she has thoroughly enjoyed her time on the board and working with each of the current members, she has had a career change and her new job doesn’t provide the flexibility to give her the time and commitment needed to serve as a productive member of the board.”

Board Member Jim Dugan announced that the School Board Nominating Committee has been elected and has started their search to identify possible candidates to serve on the Board of Education next term. Dugan took the opportunity to clarify that after finishing his first three-year term, he will be running to serve out another term.

Therefore, the SBNC will be seeking one new nominee and considering the renomination of Dugan.

School CalendarJimDuganJim Dugan will seek nomination for a second three year term on the school board.

Dr. Patrick was thankful for all of the feedback the BOE has received in regards to the two proposed school calendars for the 2024-25 school year and noted they will continue to take feedback until they put forth the final calendar draft on February 5th. Before describing the differences between the two proposed versions, he reminded the audience that the scheduled half days for parent-teacher conferences are contractual dates set with the Scarsdale Teachers Association.

As for the two proposed calendars, Dr. Patrick explained that the first version has students returning the day after Labor day and allows for a full two week Holiday Vacation in December. The second proposed version allows for an extended Labor Day weekend and has students returning to school on Thursday September 5th. The second version does not allow for two full weeks of vacation in December and instead calls students back to the classroom on Thursday January 2nd.

Version One:

Version Two:

Dr. Patrick emphasized that a full two week holiday vacation for the 2024-25 school year would be in line with traditional calendar planning as Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, and is not a sign that there will be a full two week break every year, as that is a year by year consideration. He went on to highlight that both versions of the calendar include the three newly adopted holidays of Lunar New Year, Diwali, and Eid al-Fitr.

BOE President Ron Schulhof added that the District does not set the last day of school in June as that date is decided upon by New York State and is based on the timing of State Regent Exams.

Board Member Amber Yusef asked which version of the calendar the faculty preferred and Dr. Patrick responded that they seem to favor the first version.

Board Member Jessica Resnick-Ault reported that she really appreciated the two week break this past December from a mental health perspective and wondered what the feedback was around the District. Dr. Patrick made clear that there were no official measurements but anecdotal feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with teachers and students saying it was a great opportunity to recover and reset. In the same breath, Dr. Patrick took a moment to appreciate both opinions about a longer holiday break and acknowledged that any choice made, some people will be pleased and some people will be displeased.

Ron Schulhof also noted that the BOE has received feedback describing how two full weeks in December can be hard for some working parents. Schulhof expressed empathy for these situations while also pointing out that when Christmas falls on a Wednesday, many of our peer districts also have two weeks off and there are often more camps and activities for children to take part in.

Jessica Resnick Ault expressed that half days can also be incredibly challenging for working parents and suggested that maybe the District works with the Village and other local resources to offer afternoon programming on these days.

Amber Yusef said it is important to think about the wellbeing of students and staff when deliberating the calendar. Dugan agrees but feels it is equally important to consider the stresses on working parents.

Colleen Brown added that as a former teacher, she can see how having two, two-day school weeks, as proposed in version two, can be very challenging and disruptive for teachers and students.

A parent commented via Zoom that a two week break can be incredibly beneficial for seniors who are applying to colleges during the “regular decision” phase, as the applications for this deadline tend to fall between January 2nd and January 10th. The caller went on to explain that the extra time afforded in a longer break, can make a meaningful difference in the quality of the student’s applications in addition to protecting their well-being and mental health.

Kindergarten Registration

Dr. Patrick started the business portion of the BOE meeting by reminding the audience that kindergarten registration for the 2024-25 school year opened on January 16th. He encourages all families who know their child is eligible for kindergarten next year, to register before January 31st to help the screening and planning processes go as smoothly as possible.

Strategic Planning- Community Input

Dr. Patrick also drew attention to a recent email he sent all families of current Scarsdale students which reads:

“As you may recall from the video invitation sent this past Fall, Scarsdale Public Schools has embarked on a strategic planning process aimed at identifying key priorities for the next five or more years. In November and December of 2023, we held a series of World Café forums that invited our community to share their voice, values, and vision to inform this plan. While these forums were vibrant and resulted in valuable input, we knew it would be important to provide an opportunity to those unable to attend. This is that opportunity, and we hope you will take 8-10 minutes to complete our strategic planning input survey. The information gathered will be added to the feedback we have already collected and used to identify strategic priorities for the Scarsdale Public Schools. You can expect an update on our progress later this Spring. Thank you in advance for sharing your voice, values, and vision!

Click here for the survey.

During Board member reports, Suzie Hahn highlighted an upcoming the Scarsdale PTC Legislative Advocacy Breakfast on Friday, February 2nd, from 9:00 AM - 10:30 AM at
Greenacres Elementary School.

“The breakfast will provide a space to meet, mingle and discuss legislative and advocacy issues with some of our elected officials, including Senator Shelley Mayer, Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and County Executive George Latimer. Other elected officials are expected to attend as well. There will be a moderated panel discussion of issues currently on the minds of parents, teachers & administrators in the Scarsdale Public Schools. Refreshments will be served.

RSVP at ptclegislation@gmail.com and address any questions to Rachana Singh and Joshua Mitts at ptclegislation@gmail.com.

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