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AuditoriumAs a result of projected energy savings, school administrators were able to decrease the projected tax levy increase for 2020-21 to 3.31%, translating to a 3.15% tax increase for Scarsdale residents and a 3.98% increase for residents of the Mamaroneck strip. The total budget is now projected to be $166,875,850. The numbers were reviewed at a budget study session of the Scarsdale Board of. Education on Monday night February 10, 2020.

At the meeting, administrators reviewed key elements of the school budget, highlighting priorities and changes to the budget.

Here are a few highlights from each of the presentations:

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Edgar McIntosh reviewed the largest single component of the budget; $60,334,389 in salaries for instructional staff that includes professional development supplies and instructional materials.

According to McIntosh, the guiding principle behind the educational program are:

Students are at the Center
It is important to connect knowing and doing
Creation and cohesion require collaboration
Scarsdale is a destination (but not an island)

Mcintosh explained that the program and curriculum are assessed and reviewed on an ongoing basis. The staff uses the summer to look at the curriculum, assess and adapt what they are teaching.

Another component of the program is arts education. The district has an Alvin Ailey dance program in the school, has relationships with external art institutions and invites visiting artists and arts programs to come to the district.

The district conducts several programs to connect our students and educators with those from other countries. The district runs the Interdependence Institute and this year will host international leaders during the Global Alliance in April.

For faculty, the district runs the Scarsdale Teacher’s Institute for professional enrichment and growth and also offers teachers grants for professional development through the Center for Innovation.

As a part of Scarsdale’s commitment to sustainability, the schools run a gardening program at all district schools where students learn to grow their own food and conduct plant-based research. At the high school, there is an advanced science research program as well as AT courses that are now being assessed and reviewed.

Special Education

Director of Special Education Eric Rauschenbach explained the 9.35% growth in his portion of the budget for 2020-21.

The proposed special education budget is $15,616,807, up $1,334,972 from 2019-20 or 9.35%. In the last ten years, the district has seen an increase in the number of classified students, going from 6.8% of the school population in 2010 to 10.4% in 2020. There have been increases in the number of students with autism and social emotional disabilities as well as those with more involved learning issues.

Next year, the district will offer a new 8:1: 2 classroom that will accommodate some students who are now placed out of the district. The cost of the additional staff should be offset by a reduction in out of district tuition payments.

This year, the Special Education department spent more than what was budgeted due to additional students entering the district during the summer, more funds for BOCES and increased legal costs as a result of litigation.

Special Education and student services represents 12.5% of the total school budget.

Technology Director Jerry Crisci marveled that the technology budget is just 2% of the total school budget but touches 100% of the community. The technology budget has been flat for the last three years and is expected to increase by 1.5% for 2020-21. They have been able to keep costs down by using funds from the Smart Schools Bond and by spreading costs for technology updates over four and five years. Some unknowns this year are the effect the Corona Virus could have on the supply chain from China. Crisci said, “We don’t know what the impact will be on pricing until this summer. We don’t know the prices of Chrome books right now – we need a large quantity and a small price change could have a big impact.” Furthermore, along with the purchase of iPads, the district needs to buy cases, home filtering, and mobile device management software for updates. In other words, they are not just buying the devices. He said he plans to upgrade the district to wifi6.

ScienceResearchOn Feb 8-9, research students from SHS participated at the Westchester-Rockland Junior Science and Humanities Symposium at John Jay High School. Caroline Roberts won fourth place in Cellular and Molecular Biology for her PowerPoint presentation of her work entitled Proposing a Model for Regulation of Ras and Rabex-5 through Deubiquitinating Enzyme Fat-facets (faf). She will advance to the next level, the Upstate New York JSHS, where she will present a poster on her work. (Caroline is in the back row, third from the right.)

 

Facilities:

Stuary Mattey outlined some items affecting the facilities budget, which is expected to go up $364,525 or 4%. The increases are primarily due to:

The addition of air conditioning, which he anticipates will increase the district’s electric bill by $61,000 to power the units.

The Safety and Security Budget will rise by $244,570 to allow for improvements in the lock down system and the addition of gates and security film. The total budget for safety and security will be $1,363,871.

Environmental testing will continue with $65,000 in testing for lead in the water and another $34,500 to replace lead water filters.

Also in the budget for plant improvements for next year are:

-The installation of ceiling fans in elementary school gyms
-De-commission the science wing elevator at the high school which is out of service and no longer needed.
-Exterior painting at schools
-Repointing and bricks and roofing ($250,000)
-Building condition survey items as identified in the master plan ($185,000)
-Asbestos abatement $75,000
-Bus compound renovations - $60,000

High School Auditorium

Another big item of discussion was a proposed $2.3 million for renovation of the high school auditorium. This would be funded by a transfer to the capital fund. The auditorium has not been renovated for 40 years and is need of updating.

The administration proposes to:

-Remove and replace seating
-Remove and replace carpeting
-Repair concrete below seating
-Replace and improve sound system
-Replace and improve lighting control systems
-Replace and improve stage lights
-Improve stage rigging
-Replace and improve electric wiring

These improvements would bring the auditorium up to current standards and impact performances and the students who work with the equipment.

The auditorium renovation prompted some discussion from the Board. Chris Morin said, “The auditorium work is an awful lot in a year without a bond. Could this be done in two phases over two years? He later commented, “It is smaller than Greenacres but larger than many other projects.”

Stuart Mattey responded, “This list was put together after a lot of discussion with the stakeholders.” Dr. Hagerman said he met with PTC who “wanted an affirmation that this will be done.”

Scott Silberfien asked, “Can we set up a meeting and invite community input on the auditorium? I want to make sure we’re doing it right for all the stakeholders.”

Following some discussion, the Board agreed to keep the auditorium work in the budget for now and get community input. Dr Hagerman recommended that the Board partner with the SHS PTA to get feedback on the auditorium, saying, “this will help to enrich the dialogue.”

The Board will meet again on the budget on March 9, adopt a budget on April 20 and hold the community wide budget vote on May 19.

mathcountsFor the 10th year in a row, the Scarsdale Middle School Mathcounts team took first place at the Westchester/Putnam Mathcounts Competition. 18 schools were represented. Onto the state competition March 7. Iris Wang, Partick Chen, Alex Rizk, Frederick Li, Kenneth Ren, Tommy Kornfeld, Thomas Xin, Bryan Chung, Janghee Lee, Sophi Li and Coach Steve Weiss. Photo credit: Laura Ren.


Mold

In other news, the Superintendent reported on a mold finding at the middle school in October, 2019. At the time, the district responded to a teacher complaining of a persistent cough who worked in room C57 which is on the lower level of the school.

Testing found elevated humidity in the room and a visual inspection showed moisture permeating the exterior wall of the room which is below grade and a leaking pipe. When the baseboard of the exterior wall was removed, mold was discovered on the lower few inches of the wall, “with the potential for mold to be present on the interior of the wall as well.”

The classroom is about two feet below grade and has a grass covered hill outside the windows. Peeling paint and plaster were found in the southwest corner of the room and the plaster was found to read “at risk” and “wet” on the moisture meter. It is suspected that water runoff from the sloped hill causes water intrusion. A few ceiling tiles were stained and a leaking pipe was discovered in the plenum.

Air samples showed elevated counts of Basidiospores and Aspergillus/Penicillium in room C57. Lead was detected at the low levels in the plaster wall paint. The concentration of fungi in the room was more than three times higher than found in a control room where no moisture was found. See the environmental testing results here: 

Retirement
Victoria Presser from the Public Information Office of the schools announced that she will retire after 18 years in the district in June 2020.

Personnel
Haley Rauch was recommended for tenure in the math department at Scarsdale High School.

Joy Ying has approved as a replacement math teacher for Elise Nelson at Scarsdale High School.

Non SibiLast week, the school district announced that the proposed 2020-21 school budget would increase 3.86 percent over this year’s, resulting in a 3.6% percent increase to the tax levy. Since then, the administration made changes to health insurance cost projections, bringing the budget down a bit, but the plan still is a significant 3.77 percent over the current year budget, translating to a 3.51 percent tax levy increase.

On Monday 2-5, district officials provided the first look at the nearly $167 million plan and the story behind the numbers.

Assistant Superintendent for Business Stuart Mattey began the session by reminding attendees about the district’s “guiding factors” in developing each year’s budget and offering a timeline of the process and list of public budget sessions between now and April. He then went on to speak about the district’s efforts to identify and capitalize on cost/spending efficiencies wherever possible.

“It’s always an additive process; we’re always coming back and asking for more, more, more, more. Sometimes that feels like the case but, behind the scenes, we do think of how we can do things better; how can we spend our money more efficiently; is there a different way of thinking about (something),” Mattey offered. He then pointed out a variety of the district’s budget efficiencies, including its self-funded health care plan, maximization of state aid, cooperative agreements with Scarsdale Village, purchasing practices, and technology advancements.

In looking ahead to next year’s plan, district managers asserted that the budget maintains Scarsdale’s high quality of teaching and learning and aligns with the district’s strategic plan goals. Specifically, it’s designed to:

• Ensure appropriate staffing levels;
• Enrich classroom school libraries;
• Provide materials/resources to support an “exemplary” math program, including piloting new math tools, technology, and resources to align the elementary math program with next generation standards;
• Improving global opportunities for students via travel, hosting, and virtual/online experiences;
• Provide and enhance STEAM experiences for all students;
• Create new garden models, biomechanical innovations, sustainability, and wellness projects;
• Expand the district’s ability to educate students with disabilities and those in need of specialized support; and
• Continue to upgrade building facilities consistent with the district’s master plan.

The Upshot
The draft budget currently stands at $166,850,850, which is just over $6 million more than last year’s. If adopted, Scarsdale residents would pay 3.35% more in taxes and those in the Mamaroneck Strip will pay 4.17% more. Mattey said, “It’s still a draft budget, but it’s getting closer and closer to where we need to be for the board to adopt it in April. The numbers are becoming more concrete.” He noted that the current tax levy figure is just under the projected tax levy limit of 3.54% (or $49,266).

20 21SchoolBudget

When addressing the levy, Mattey stated, “We think 2 percent (when thinking of the limit) but rarely would it be 2 percent. The allowable tax levy, before going over the cap, is made up of not only the CPI (which currently is 1.81 percent and capped at 2 percent)… but also can be driven up by a tax-base growth factor, which is based on property assessments. We get that from the state and that number went up 10 percent… that drives the levy limit up, and then there are capital exclusions. That number in transfer to capital… also drives the (limit).” Mattey also stressed the budget still is preliminary and will change based on pending information and discussion.

Budget Drivers
The plan provides for increased spending across a number of major areas, with the largest percentage increases in plant and capital improvements, transportation (including a transportation study to review issues such as routes, staffing, GPS use, and vehicles), employee compensation and benefits, operations and maintenance, and interscholastic athletics (due to increased coaching positions/stipends, Butler Field track/sound system, and athletic training expenses), among others.

The district proposes adding 3.4 full time employees in 2020-21, two of whom will support elementary special education efforts and are based on expected enrollment. As reported earlier, district staffing has increased from 610.55 employees in 2009-10 to a planned 630.1 next year.

As always, compensation and benefit costs are the largest component of the budget by far, accounting for well over $100 million. Personnel costs throughout the district continue to rise; contractual salary increases for all employees will total $3.07 million, teacher and New York State employees retirement system mandated contributions will increase $863,000; the district’s medical insurance expense is projected to increase 4.4 percent to $762,000; and other employee benefit increases will total $524,000.

Board Member Scott Silberfein addressed the benefit increases, saying, “Obviously we don’t have a say on employee benefits for the most part… this seems to be a little bit more than in years’ past… I would be interested in exploring whether or not either a transfer from the health insurance reserve or something else may make sense to smooth out the impact on taxpayers.” Mattey noted that the 4.4 percent increase was not out of the ordinary and that it would be a danger to fund recurring costs with reserves meant to cover extraordinary events. Silberfein agreed but noted that, “We should have that discussion… I think part of the ideas of reserves is to smooth out dips and valleys and mountains for taxpayers.”

Other major budget drivers are costs related to increasing special education enrollments and plant improvements/transfers to capital fund to support high-priority infrastructure projects and facility upgrades, including the high school auditorium. The auditorium renovation, which has been deferred from previous years, has generated a fair amount of interest due to an estimated total cost of $2.3 million, most of which will be covered via a funds transfer. BOE Member Christopher Morin said, “We have to talk more about what this is, what the scope of work is, and what we get out of it. It’s a big number.” Mattey is expected to provide more information on the project during his facilities presentation planned for next week.

The district expects to recoup some costs next year, including a $225,000 reduction in the tax certiorari budget as older claims settle, a $250,000 savings in debt service due to lower interest rates on upcoming loans, and a gain of $175,000 after a reversal of prior-year non-recurring expense for security-related computer purchases.

Cooling and Security Priorities
Mattey and Assistant Superintendent of Personnel and Administrative Services Drew Patrick also reviewed specific district initiatives developed in response to resident/parent feedback that will impact facilities spending. The first of these is the installation of cooling solutions for use on excessive heat days (90 degrees or higher on the heat index). Patrick reported, “We decided to look at being able to provide workable spaces for our students on high heat days through a three-phase process.” He explained, “The first phase was to try and gain some equity across our seven buildings in having enough cooling spaces during the day… for all students to continue their learning.”

The district already has installed window air conditioning units throughout six of the buildings, and split A/C units at Heathcote. It now is working on providing at least one air conditioned, large group common space in each building, and has installed rooftop units to cool the Quaker Ridge and Fox Meadow libraries. Over the long term, the district will review both traditional and alternative options to provide additional cooled spaces with an eye towards sustainability. This year’s proposed budget provides for the installation of ceiling fans in four elementary school gymnasiums (Quaker Ridge already is equipped with fans). The district also is exploring the possibility of adding fans to multipurpose rooms sometime in the future. Ceiling fans, unfortunately, are not a viable option for the middle school and high school auditoriums due to potential problems with sports activities, such as volleyball.

Mattey then discussed the district’s efforts to enhance school safety, security, and emergency management. The district’s approach is multi-pronged, with three main components: 1) providing an external layer of safety and security at all buildings by adding visitor management and safety personnel; 2) providing additional mental health and social/emotional support for students; and 3) continuing to implement policies, practices, and procedures to promote safety and security. Prior to the start of this school year, additional safety monitors were added, directly managing visitors to each building every day, and monitoring the building site during student hours. The district also hired two new staff members: a district-wide psychologist and a high school teacher dedicated to academic pre-referral support to help identify and address potential problems. In addition, every school has a building-level safety and emergency response team that trains on a regular basis to assure consistent best practices.

The next budget discussion session is this coming Monday, February 10, at 6:30 pm, and members of the public are invited to attend and comment. For more information on specific expenses and savings, as well as supporting information, see the complete preliminary budget document, which is posted on the district’s website.

OomplaLoompaThe Oompa Loompas in Edgewood School's performance of Willy Wonka, Jr.After more than 30 years without a multi-grade level play, theater returned to Edgewood Elementary School’s main stage with KJK's production of Willy Wonka Jr, performed by 3rd, 4th and 5th grade students on Friday, January 17th.   

The students worked hard for two weeks, rehearsing every day after school for 2 1/2 hours, which culminated in two performances - one for their teachers and peers, and an evening show for parents, family, and friends.  Despite the grueling schedule and many of the cast members coming down sick - the show went on!  The students were excited to see their work come to fruition and learned a lot about theater and performing for an audience.  

EdgewoodRenShiraiEdgewood students with 4th grader Ren Shirai as Willy Wonka. 

The show also benefitted from 7 students as stage crew members who learned about sound, lighting, and backstage work.  In previous years, school-wide plays were thought to be too difficult because the gym can only accommodate a limited number of audience members.  Yet this year, led by the vision of PTA members and collaborative efforts with school principal Tashia Brown and assistant principal William Yang, it was agreed that a production would work for the upper elementary students, with the idea that K-2 students can look forward to being in future productions.  

CastlisteningThe cast of Edgewood's Willy Wonka Jr listening to director Suzie Hepker of KJK Productions

The school community was impressed by the performance and it is hoped that a school play will now become one of Edgewood's yearly traditions.

EdgePerformingEdgewood students performing in Willy Wonka Jr

shscupolacopyOn the agenda for the Scarsdale Board of Education on Monday January 27, 2020 were the 2020-21 school budget, staffing and a report on the use of technology in the Scarsdale Schools. Here is what you need to know:

School Budget:

The current estimate for the 2020-21 school budget is $166,988,817 which is an increase of 3.86% over the 2019-20 school budget and translates to a 3.6% tax increase. The reasons for the increase will be discussed at a subsequent meeting.

Staffing:

staffing

As a first step in the budgeting process, the Board reviewed district staffing. The graphic below shows that in the last ten years, district-wide staffing has increased from 610.55 employees to 630.1 projected for 2020-21.

The reasons for these staff increases was explained by Assistant Superintendent Drew Patrick.

-During this ten-year period, the number of special education elementary classes has risen from 6 sections, to a projected 13 for the next school year and special education staff was added at the middle school and high school to accommodate students in the upper grades.

-Over the years, five elementary reading teachers were added to support students at each of the five schools.

- At the high school, staffing was increased by three positions to accommodate the STEAM curriculum and opening of the new design lab at SHS.

After a discussion, the Board gave tentative approval, or a “soft nod,” for an additional 2.4 FTE’s for 2020-21 including:

One elementary special education co-teaching position

One elementary special education teacher for the new 8:1: 2 classroom that will accommodate some students who are now placed out of the district. The cost of this position should be offset by a reduction in out of district tuition payments.

A .4 FTE for the psychologist’s secretary at the middle school

Board member Scott Silberfein agreed that the additional staffing was needed but expressed concern about the proposed budget increase. He said, “We are now at a 3.86% budget to budget increase. I am concerned about the overall budget increase. I know it’s early and it may shift, but this is higher than we’ve seen over the last few years.”

Chris Morin concurred, saying, “Including security, it’s a 45 addition to head count over these last six years with flat enrollment, and that is just extraordinary. The 3.86% is an awful lot …. Sooner or later we will create a problem for ourselves if we don’t get our arms around that issue.”

Retirements and Tenure
BryantPhys Ed Teacher Maggie Bryant was granted tenure.

Drew Patrick announced the retirement of three teachers, together representing 99 years of teaching.

They are:
Heidi Kaplan – Math teacher at Scarsdale Middle School
Renee Lund – Special Education from Scarsdale Middle School
Tom Maguire – Social Studies teacher at Scarsdale High School

Tenure was granted to SHS Physical Education teacher Maggie Bryant who was present with her family for the announcement.


Technology and STEAM Update

Director of Technology Jerry Crisci and SHS Steam Coordinator Lisa Yokana provided an impressive report on the integration of technology into all district schools. Updates on the STEAM curriculum at Scarsdale High School, now in its fourth year and information on the district’s Center for Innovation, now in its eighth year were provided.

Crisci explained that the overall goals of his department are outlined in “The Scarsdale Technology Vision Statement.” It calls for the district to “use technology to empower learners” by giving them tools for creating, communicating and collaborating.”

He explained how various activities at all grade levels address goals such as teaching students to be good digital citizens, creating computational thinkers, innovative designers and creative communicators.

At each school, students learn to navigate age appropriate databases and sources. Common experiences across the elementary schools includes

-Digital citizenship at all ages
-Publishing projects
-Coding robotics
-Google apps in grades 3-5
-Fifth grade capstone project

Computer teachers engage in professional development to learn how to teach these skills.

At the middle schools, seventh grade students are using iPads, as well as old fashioned pen and paper. The middle school library offers more advanced databases and use of resources as well as Schoology, a learning management platform for school homework and assignments.

DesignLabThe Design Lab at Scarsdale High SchoolAt the high school Chromebook carts are available in English, social studies and world language classes. Desktop computers are available in the computer lab and the district’s most powerful computers are available in the digital media labs.

Students can bring their own devices and often mediate between the use of different kinds of technology, paper and books. The high school library includes sophisticated databases for use by the students.

Turning to the STEAM Program, Crisci said that it begins in sixth grade and extends through the tech classes in grades 6,7 and 8. The curriculum focuses on design, computational thinking, pre-engineering and problem solving.

SHS Teacher Lisa Okana reviewed the high school STEAM program, saying, “We want to create students that are curious, empathic and empowered. Our first level courses are an intro to engineering and design. The second level courses include robotics, electronics/physical computing, design for modern production, design build and app design. At the third level the program offers advanced topics entrepreneurship. This full year course focuses on designing for students with disabilities and is a college level class.”

She explained, that students are both experts and teachers, for example a student teaches other students in app development. Members of the community often serve as consultants. Students learn to collaborate, share ideas, co-work to solve challenges. The program encourages students to share their knowledge. In this course, students create prototypes and put them in the hands of users.

According to Yokana, “The assessment process includes a great deal of process notes, and reflection. They pitch their ideas and get feedback.” Yokana explained, that the design thinking process includes the following:

-Creating prototypes
-Testing assumptions
-Learning through experimentation
-Learning resilience
-Designing real things that can make a difference
-Becoming empowered as agents of change.

The program is successful and has become a model for many other schools that regularly visit Scarsdale. Recently one of the class design teams won a $5,000 grant from Wells Fargo Bank for creating functional clothing for children who cannot dress themselves.

The Center for Innovation (CFI)

The Scarsdale Center for Innovation is now eight years old. It originally started with speakers, site visits and project grants. The Center offered teachers CFI grants and has had seven years of impacts, resulting in the creation of maker spaces at all the elementary schools, a music maker program, Level Up Village at the middle school and an engineer in residence.

Other initiatives included the creation of The Nest, a space for innovation at the middle school, and the awarding of a grant for the creation of an applied math class at the high school.

District personnel have used CFI funds for site visits to NuVu in Cambridge, MA, to the MIT media lab and the Hynes Institute at Iona College.

In February 2019, the district launched a program called CFI Ambassadors, where 21 teachers were named to become influencers both inside and outside the district. Their mission is to:

-Change long term behaviors and mind sets
-Change many people and many interlocked behaviors
-Change minds, hearts and actions

Each ambassador has been asked to identify an opportunity for innovation and using skills to effect change.

Following the technology discussion, the Superintendent gave an update to the strategic plan.

Watch the entire meeting online here: https://vimeopro.com/scarsdaleschoolstv/boe-2019-2020

BoardLeadership2020aAt the first meeting of the Board of Education on January 13, 2020, the Board elected new leadership. Customarily, Board Presidents and Vice Presidents are elected at the end of the school year in July. However last summer, when the Board did their transition planning they recognized that they had three new members starting their terms. As the Board was composed of many “young” members, the Board elected to extend the service of more seasoned members, with Scott Silberfein serving as president and Pam Fuehrer as vice president for an additional six months.

So, now that six months has passed, the Board voted to select Pam Fuehrer as President and Alison Singer as Vice President. They were both elected unanimously and sworn in by Dr. Hagerman.

Here are some highlights of the meeting:

2020-21 School Budget

Ass’t Superintendent Stuart Mattey opened the meeting with an overview of the proposed 2020-21 school budget. The early draft calls for a total budget of $167,078,421 which is a 3.92% budget to budget increase over 2019-20 and would mean a projected tax increase of 3.66%, or $268,118 above the projected tax levy limit.

Staffing and Special Education

In order to begin budgeting for the 2020-21 school year, the administration reviewed current district staffing as well as requests for additional school staff for next year.

This year’s staffing is pretty much on target with the staffing specified in the actual 2019-20 budget. Due to the need for an additional kindergarten section, the budgeted contingency position was used, and staffing is just .7 employees above budget.

Due to increases in the number of students in special education which has grown by 150 students over the past five years, Director of Special Education and Student Services Eric Rauschenbach explained a request for an additional special education co-teacher as special education sections may grow from 13 to 14 classrooms.

He is also proposing that some students who are currently placed out of the district be brought back to the district with the formation of a special class for K-2 students, called 8:1:2. This refers to 8 students, 1 teacher and 2 aides. Rauschenbach said that forming this class would be budget neutral as some of the students who would be served in this class are currently attending out-of-district schools at a cost of $65,000 a year. If there is capacity, students from other districts could pay tuition to attend. He explained, “10% of students are special needs – up from 7% four to five years ago. We are being forward in trying to bring kids back into the district.”

In a discussion of the proposal, Board Member Alison Singer said, “This will enable more students who live in the district to benefit from a Scarsdale education.”

Rauschenbach also made a request for a part-time secretary for the school psychologist at the middle school. The staffer would do clerical work, schedule appointments, track students and greet people in the office when the psychologist is behind closed doors.

Discussing overall staffing for 2020-21, Drew Patrick said the budget will include funding for one additional special education class, one less elementary school section and a contingency position for higher than expected student enrollment.

2020-21 School Calendar

Dr. Hagerman provided a preview of the tentative school calendar for the 2020-21 calendarschool year.

Here are the dates that he said are “likely” but necessarily set:

First day of school: September 8, 2020
Christmas Break: December 23, 2020 – January 4, 2021
February Break: February 15-19, 2021
Spring Break:
March 29 –April 2, 2021
Or April 5 – 9. 2021
Last Day of School: June 25, 2021

Retirement

Assistant Superintendent Drew Patrick announced that SHS Social Studies teacher Maria Valentin would retire at the end of the school year after teaching here for 18 years.

Lights at Butler Field

Maroon and White President Kate Conlan and Steve Nicholas from the Light the Field committee proudly announced that the committee had met their goal and raised $800,000 for lights at Butler Field. Conlan said, “We are fully funded and ready to move forward,” Nicholas thanked the board and the 500 families who got involved. A group of supporters attended the meeting and cheered the news.

Director of Security Mike Spedaliere reported that the district is now in compliance with NYS guidelines for drills and has conducted the required lockdowns, fire evacuation drills and shelter in place drills. In order to improve communications inside the school buildings and between the school buildings, the district tested a portable radio system and was pleased with the transmission. The district plans to purchase new portable radios for all district schools using funds from the security and facilities budgets.

Enrollment Projections

Assistant Superintendent Drew Patrick reviewed demographic and enrollment projections for the next five years.

Despite a projection last year that enrollment would drop steeply, it turned out that enrollment has been very stable ranging from 4,721 to 4,821 students over the last ten years. With 4,745 students enrolled as of October 2019, the district is now in the lower portion of that range.

tenyearenrollment

The demographer compared the number of students enrolling in kindergarten to the number of graduating seniors each year and found that the district’s “kindergarten replacement” numbers have been negative for eight out of the past nine years. However, he also found that this loss in enrollment is offset by the inward migration of students in later grades.

kindergartenreplacement

For instance, for the 2019-20 school year, the district’s kindergarten replacement number was negative 63 students however, overall district enrollment grew by ten students who came into the system in the older grades.

Looking ahead for the next five years, the demographer projects stable enrollment with a possible decline of 40 students over the five-year span. While elementary school enrollment is projected to dip slightly, the numbers in the middle school and high school will rise. It is interesting to note that enrollment at Greenacres School was 411 students in 2010-11 is now at 337 students and is projected to drop to 294 students by 2024-25. The school is currently being expanded.

enrollment projection

High School Start Time

Should high school begin later to allow teens more time to sleep? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that that middle schools and high schools should start at 8:30 a.m. or later to support teen health, alertness and safety. But Scarsdale Middle School begins at 8:10 and Scarsdale High School at 8 am.

In order to begin discussions around a schedule change, the school administration did some research to assess other school’s schedules and gather input from superintendents around the state.studentsleep

Dr. Hagerman’s query to superintendents only yielded three responses, one who said, “Unless the state or all component BOCES school districts (for 1 BOCES) agree to the time change the issue should be dropped. 1, 2 or 3 districts going alone on this will only cause more problems for the students that it is trying to help. The age-old adage is aptly applied here: If it isn’t broke, don't fix it.” Athletic Director Ray Pappalardi found that other athletic directors were against a schedule change, by a ratio of roughly 2:1.

A study of school start times found that Scarsdale’s 8 am start time was “in the middle of the pack.”

Questions to Assemblywoman Amy Paulin’s office found that there is no work around this issue going on at the state level.

Since a change in the start time could impact the time school ends along with the athletic schedule and the transportation plan for the entire district, the decision has far-reaching effects.

In a discussion about the issue that was held over from the December BOE meeting, Board member Carl Finger said, “There is variation in the start time of neighboring high schools, with some starting as late as 8:30. Some were ending at 3:15 or 3:20. If we did want to start later, how would that work? How good an idea do we think it is? I think it is a reasonable idea. How can we facilitate it? What would it entail? What does the community think? Maybe we can adjust our free periods?”

Dr. Hagerman said, “The research is unequivocal that there are benefits to more sleep. But we can’t assume that changing the schedule does not necessarily equate to more sleep.” Pam Fuehrer added “adolescent brains are programmed to operate best later in the morning.”

Discussing next steps, Dr. Hagerman said, “What problem are we trying to solve? I would want to speak to the faculty and students. Do they think they are not getting enough sleep? Have they thought about the trade-offs? There are many implications to consider. I think we have to ask the users of the experience how they are feeling about it. High School students might like to start at 9:30 but once they consider the other choices they might have a different answer.”

Drew Patrick said, “On the days school ends at 3:05 the athletes struggle to make the buses to athletic events.” At the conclusion of the conversation Dr. Hagerman agreed to speak to SHS Principal Ken Bonamo and then have a further discussion about next steps.

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