Monday, May 25th

Last updateSat, 23 May 2020 7pm

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colonialfair1Motoko and Ayaka Gueler dressed for Colonial Day - at homeThough the streets of Scarsdale are quiet, don’t be fooled. There’s lots going on inside. Scarsdale kids are busy learning for themselves and creating great resources to teach one another.

A fourth grader at Edgewood was disappointed about the cancellation of the annual colonial fair and encouraged parents and teachers to design a virtual fair on Zoom. The children made whirly gigs (a Colonial toy), played colonial Bingo and each shared information from his/her colonial research project. Many children wore their colonial costumes for the one-hour Zoom session for Mr. DeStefano’s and Mrs. Aberman’s 4th grade classes.

Gold Award Girl Scouts who are high school students in 11th and 12th grades are busy helping to keep younger troops engaged. Annabelle Donnelly is running a wonderful “Save the Bees” workshop which culminates in girls planting pots of flowers to attract bees and building a bee hotel for mason bees. Gillian Zitrin is running a “Destress through Art and Mindfulness.” workshop which includes yoga, making a “Stress-less box “and a homemade stress ball. Other workshops girls are running include: anti-bullying and a peek into the fashion industry. All of these are executed via Zoom.

And Rebecca Friedland, a fourth grader at Quaker Ridge School created a website called quarantine 4 kids filled with things to keep kids busy during these hard times.

freidlandRebecca Friedland has designed a website filled with fun activities to do during the quarantine.

Find her recipes to cook and projects and to make at www.quarantine4kids.com. She invites you to visit her website to get some great ideas about how to have fun during the quarantine.destressA stressless box designed by 4th grade Junior Girl Scout Sofia Clark during a workshop.

colonialzoomColonial Day celebration via Zoomcolonialfair2Adina Zitrin - a happy Colonial Day participant.

YellowRosesAssistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick with a Zoom background of yellow rosesThe Scarsdale School administration sought to add an air of celebration to the Zoom announcement of tenure for 28 faculty members and two school administrators by appearing before a background of yellow roses at their May 11 meeting.

Traditionally, tenure is granted at a May meeting attended by colleagues and families and each awardee is given a rose. As this year’s ceremony was held online, the administration sought to personalize it with a photo gallery of the faculty and administrators, in the absence of kisses and hugs.

Before the ceremony began, Dr. Thomas Hagerman called for a moment of silence to commemorate the loss of Karen Marcus, a beloved aid at Quaker Ridge, and others who have passed away during this crisis.

He recognized district faculty during Teacher Appreciation Week and gave a formal thank you on behalf of the community, saying that during this pandemic, “Scarsdale teachers have risen to every challenge, just as they always do.”

A total of 30 district employees, including 28 teachers and 2 administrators were celebrated on the attainment of tenure. Dr. Hagerman said, “We wholeheartedly believe in you and celebrate your attainment of tenure”

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick, who himself was granted tenure, commented, “Achieving tenure is a significant accomplishment in the career of an educator ….. this cannot happen before a teacher or an administrator successfully completes a probationary period of performance…. Our appraisal system relies on a wide variety of inputs to inform a decision regarding tenure including observations, written reports, ratings, all conducted by supervisors. …. Formal and informal mentoring, a year-end conference, written appraisals, assessment of progress and rating annually, a portfolio of artifacts documenting professional accomplishments, feedback from parents and an administrative review panel attended by district administrators, building administrators, supervisors, and board of education members annually. We believe that the rigors of the tenure process are commensurate with the importance of the achievement.”FolignoTenure

Patrick read a few reflections from portfolios of the tenure candidates.

Here are a few responses to the questions, “Why Do I Teach?”

“I teach because of my students. The students that I have the pleasure of sharing a year full of laughs, friendships, invigorating discussions, acceptances and rejections from college, hardships and accomplishments. I am reminded at the end of each year that their persistent dedication and willingness to put themselves out there in a subject so many express a dislike for, is the reason that I went into teaching in the first place.”

Another said, inspiration without implementation is a waste. This quote is now posted in my lesson planning binder that I look at all the time. I feel inspired by my colleagues, my students, teachers from all over the world and posts I see on Pinterest and Twitter. Being inspired is wonderful. But the difference is taking that inspiration and bringing it into the classroom and doing something with it before the feeling dissipates. I teach because I have a passion not just for my content area but for my profession.”

Dr. Patrick then displayed a photo gallery of the newly tenured faculty members and administrators:

Here they are:

tenure

Following the announcement the board gave the group a virtual clap and Board Vice President Alison Singer thanked them for “enriching the lives of their students.”

Celebrating the Class of 2020

Board President Pam Fuehrer outlined some work on behalf of the high school administration, teachers, parents and the PTA to identify ways to celebrate the senior class, who will miss important milestone events such as the prom and their graduation. SHS Principal Kenneth Bonamo has assembled a Senior Events Committee to vet alternate ideas to traditional end of year events.

classof2020Students have been asked to reach out to their senior class advisors with ideas and parents can share their suggestions with SHS PTA President Deb Morel. These events can include social media connections and virtual events. Spring coaches are planning activities to recognize spring athletes. This past Thursday caravans of masked teachers drove through town and distributed Class of 2020 signs to the entire graduating class of 2020.

HonorRoll(This note was sent to Scarsdale10583 by the Scarsdale Bowl Committee) This week we would have been celebrating the Scarsdale Bowl Dinner together. One powerful way to express gratitude is to thank the volunteers who make Scarsdale the amazing place we know and love. Scarsdale is a community full of volunteers whose dedication shines in every area of civic life.

For the first time, we can thank all of our community volunteers publicly by naming them to the new Scarsdale Foundation Volunteer Honor Roll!

The Honor Roll will help the Scarsdale Foundation, which provides need-based scholarships for college sophomores, juniors, and seniors, reach a vital fundraising goal of $150,000. As a community that values education, we should give every Scarsdale student a chance to succeed beyond their time in Scarsdale schools. During this unusual time, funds are critically needed.

All Scarsdale volunteers are eligible to be part of the Honor Roll, including former residents. For $25 per volunteer, you can honor as many volunteers as you choose, such as neighbors and friends who coach sports, help at our schools, cook for the homeless, serve on local boards, committees, and our everyday heroes. It is a way to acknowledge those who serve in the more prominent ways and the quieter ways as well.

Members of the Honor Roll will be contacted and recognized in print, online, and at the Scarsdale Foundation Bowl Dinner at Brae Burn Country Club on September 24, 2020. Please honor your friends and neighbors and remember that all donations will help the Scarsdale Foundation reach its goal for college scholarships and ensure that our students have a bright and shining future!

Click here to honor a volunteer today!

May4BudgetAfter technical glitches prevented some of the participants from accessing the Zoom meeting, the Scarsdale Board of Education got off to a late start for their May 4, 2020 meeting online.

On the agenda was the proposed 2020-21 school budget, new mandates from the state to hold the school board and budget election online, e- Learning and a discussion about allowing installment payments for school taxes.

The proposed budget was reduced slightly from the April 20 meeting, due to the elimination of one full time teacher in response to decreased enrollment projections and savings from the extension of the school closing to the end of June.

The $162,396,316 proposed budget represents a 1% increase over 2019-20 which means a 1.92% increase in taxes for Scarsdale residents and 2.73% for those in the Mamaroneck strip.

The board plans to adopt the budget on May 11 and hold a hearing on June 1. What’s changed is that the election will be held by mail rather than in person and the state is requiring that the district mail absentee ballots to all eligible voters. A property tax report card must be delivered to the NYS Education Department by 5-18. Completed ballots will need to be received by the district by June 9 and the district is required to pay for this return postage as well. Assistant Superintendent Stuart Mattey commented on the difficulty of complying with the new law, and printing and mailing the ballots while the administrative staff is not working onsite due to the COVID crisis. There will also be additional expenses to conduct the election by mail.

District Clerk Honore Adams said that eligible voters can be defined as follows:

A United States citizen
· at least 18 years of age (as of the date of the election)
· a resident of the school district for at least 30 days before the election
· who is otherwise not ineligible to vote under Section 5-106 of the NY Election Law.

Budget Discussion

In a discussion about the budget, Board Member Chris Morin asked if expenses in the 2020-21 could be further reduced by delaying the hiring of staff for the fall. Given the uncertainty about re-opening in September he asked if the district could defer hiring even if it meant that that a class might not have an aide, a class might be a little larger or that every elective would not be available.

Assistant Superintendent Andrew Patrick responded, saying “When we talk about class sizes – or not offering electives – that is something we can do. But we’re not going to recommend that without having some dialogue…. we do have flexibility with attrition…. We could delay or not hire…. If we don’t have lunch supervision in the fall, we could not hire lunch aides.” He continued, “We are faced with tremendous uncertainty. My instinct is based on knowing that we are typically not nearly as successful in hiring in September, October or November as we are now.”

About school opening in the fall, Dr. Thomas Hagerman appeared more optimistic, saying, “NYC will be the last to decide about the fall. I don’t think we’re in the same boat as NYC schools. I don’t think we’re going to be on the same schedule.”

Scott Silberfein raised the question of using more of the district’s fund balance to reduce the tax levy. The board had already decided to increase the fund balance contribution to the proposed budget from $1.1 million to $1.45 million. He said, “I would still be in favor of using additional funds as assigned fund balance for 2020-21. I would be in favor of reducing the tax increase.”

Mattey said, “It’s ultimately the board’s decision and it’s my job to give you the warning signals”

Alison Singer said, “I feel comfortable where the budget is now. We have made appropriate cuts … significant cuts – but also maintain the high quality of a Scarsdale education. I think that our taxpayers would not want us to put the future into jeopardy by using more fund balance now.”

Karen Ceske said, “I am also hesitant not to make changes to that line.”

Board President Pam Fuehrer concurred, saying, “I think the $350,000 that we already put in is enough to have to make up. I think we have gone as far as we can go.” Carl Finger agreed, saying “I don’t like to evaluate our entire philosophy when we’re under the gun. In terms of fund balance, a modest amount is not going to have a significant impact on this year – so I am fine with keeping it as is.”

Scott Silberfien replied, “We owe our fellow taxpayers as much as we feel comfortable doing. I am concerned what our budget vote might be in this new environment. It is possible that we as a board will be under a different type of scrutiny this year because of the environment and because of who is eligible to vote…. I think ever $100,000 or $200,000 might make a difference to them…. If this budget was to fail we would be under a contingency budget.”

Carl Finger said, “We don’t have any information about the consequences of the vote at this point”

Responding to Finger’s question about how much an $200,000 from the fund balance would lower taxes, Stuart Mattey said, “A $200,000 increase in the fund balance contribution would drop the levy increase to 1.94% and mean an extra $30 for the average homeowner.”

Chris Morin commented, “We should be taking a tougher line now, especially on hiring. We do need a tight story now for taxpayers. This environment is not what taxpayers had expected. I think it would be good if we could demonstrate that this budget reflects the change in teaching as well as economic conditions.”

Pam Fuehrer reported on Scarsdale’s proposed budget in comparison to peer districts. She said, “Our budget to budget (increase) of 1% compares to our local peer group of eight school districts which are at 2.57% in Westchester-Putnam. Our tax levy increase is at 2.08% compares to our peer districts at 2.50%. We are in a very good position.”

Chris Morin said, “The ten-year graph is a very good long-term story for taxpayers… School districts are pretty inflexible… I think we need the tightest story we can have this year in anticipation of next year.”

The Board agreed to stick with the proposed budget as presented by Stuart Mattey. However at the end of the meeting, Scott Silberfein suggested using $730,000 that is currently in reserve to begin work on the high school auditorium next year. The Board agreed that they would like Stuart Mattey to provide information on phased work in the auditorium and determine if any work could be done in 2020-21. Mattey explained that this would increase the budget, but not the tax levy, as these funds would be taken out of reserves.

Public CommentsGreenacresPrincipalsGreenacres PrincipalSharon Hill and Assistant Principal Sharon DeLorenzo were onsite Tuesday so that parents could pick up children's belongings from the school to facilitate the construction.

During public comments, Leah Dembitzer spoke on behalf of the Board of Directors of the League of Women Voters and Deb Morel spoke on behalf of the Scarsdale High School PTA Executive Board.

You can see their full comments here:

Former member of the Board of Education Art Rublin said, “One thing that is keeping Stuart (Mattey) up at night is concern about what will be required when students return to school in the fall. We could need more custodians or nurses. If money is not in the budget it will not be available for whatever might come up. If we need to make many upgrades to open school, we will need to have the funds in the budget to pay for it.”

Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez questioned comments about “peer districts” made by Board President Pam Fuehrer. She said, “When conducting a peer analysis in finance, assembling a good, relevant peer group is very challenging, and sometimes impossible….it would be good to know more about the school districts in Westchester and Putnam that you mention? Is this a reasonable group of towns to compare Scarsdale and its budget?” She raised concerns about the increase in the village and school budgets saying, “At each board meeting from both sides, I keep hearing from some board members and residents, loosely paraphrasing, the rise is only $30, $60, $90 ….. While these two budgets are separate, for us residents, expenses come from one household budget.”

She raised concerns about equity saying, “the tax level depends on your property assessments, whether you are fairly assessed or not. Last couple of years, as the effects of changes to federal tax regime, that is SALT, some of the very large owners have been able to grieve, while smaller ones may not have as much. Hence for some who were already impacted by vertical inequity, that will continue to be exacerbated.”

GreenacresLostandFoundGreenacres Lost and FoundAbout e-Learning she said, the teachers, “were not trained for e-Learning. A good part of my profession is conducting workshops and training. And I know that there is a big difference between my live delivery and those conducted via Zoom and Adobe Connect.” Last, she asked what the district would do if there were a power outage, saying, “As hurricane season approaches, what will you do if power outages hit our very stressed grid. Just a couple of years ago, my household was without power for two weeks.”

Bob Harrison again stressed the economic impact of the crisis on residents and seniors. He asked for district administrators and teachers to freeze their salaries, calling for shared sacrifices. He reminded the Board and administration that in 2009 Superintendent Michael McGill and five top administrators took a pay freeze. Teachers offered to forgo 1% of their 2.5% pay increases in 2010-11. He advocated for more use of the fund balance to reduce taxes and called the 2% proposed budget increase “shameful.”

e-Learning

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum Edgar McIntosh gave an update on e-Learning at the elementary school level. He said that parents had sent communications to the district about differences across classes, assessments of learning outcomes, the balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities and cohesion of learning across the district.

He said there is a continual learning process going on as e-Learning is so new. He called elementary school parents “partners in this endeavor,” and said that the epidemic has affected the staff, some who have their own children at home.

He announced a district-wide elementary planning day for teachers on May 6 to enhance their practice.

The goals for elementary e-Learning include:

-More sharing among teachers across the district
-Enriched use of synchronous learning platforms
-More cohesion of effective practice
-Cohesion of concept, skill and content coverage

He said this was an unprecedented time without models to support learning.

A follow-up survey on e-Learning will be sent to Scarsdale families at the end of the week.

In the discussion that followed, Board members conveyed comments they had heard from the community.

Chris Morin said, “I liked what you said, but we are receiving real time feedback from parents who are having a different experience. What would you say to them?”

McIntosh replied saying, “We are learning and evolving and we need some opportunities to share feedback about e-Learning.”

Alison Singer said, “You talked about standards and expectations being aligned by grade level. We hear from parents that this continues to be an area of concern for them. They are not aware of the standards or benchmarks and I think it would easier to manage expectations if they were aware of the benchmarks.” McIntosh said, “That is something that has been done but we can look toward more transparency.”

Carl Finger said, “I also had someone say I have a fourth and fifth grader getting two completely different experiences. Is one teacher lagging or is the other exceeding expectations?” Karen Ceske asked if faculty who are having difficulties work in teams to share the load?

McIntosh confirmed that this was already happening and that teachers with special circumstances were being supported.

Ron Schulhof asked, “What is the timeline for rolling out what you discussed to address parents’ concerns?” McIntosh responded, “It will start out with your chance to share best practices and then parents will see us adapt to incorporate these practices.” Schulhof asked for tactical responses and concrete answers. He said, “The feedback we’re getting from the community is very different from what we are hearing about here. They will want to know when they will see these changes.”

Alison Singer said, “Parents are seeing considerable discrepancy across their grade and across schools.”

Tax Installments

The Board had previously asked Stuart Mattey to gather information about allowing residents to pay their school taxes in two installments, rather than pay the annual tax in one payment in September. He said, “Revenue comes to the schools at the beginning of the school year which allows the district to meet all obligations and invest the balance. …Towns are permitted by law to collect in two installments.”

The decision would need to be approved by the Village who might require additional personnel to collect the second round of payments.

Chris Morin said, “It seems just and right to do this in two installments.” Ron Schulhof asked, “What would be the impact if we just did it this year?” Carl Finger pointed out that it would be confusing to people if this was implemented this year and then removed as an option for next year. He said, “When you take it back it will be resented.” Dr. Hagerman pointed out that “taking on these challenges when people are in in the office is difficult.” The Board agreed to keep this on the agenda for further discussion next year.

Facilities Update

Stuart Mattey announced that contracts for facilities work had been awarded for general construction at the high school including the roof, floor replacement and water mitigation as well as work at Dean Field. He also said that the lights at Butler Field would be installed earlier now that school is closed.

At Greenacres work continues inside the school and parents were invited to come it to pick up items from the classrooms this week. The project is scheduled for completion in August.

Food Service

Prior to the closing of school, Stuart Mattey had been working with the food service committee in order to competitively bid out food service for the district. However, the district learned that they can rollover their contract with the current provider without bidding. The committee agrees that would be best to do as things are so uncertain and they would like to continue to work with Chartwells.

Mattey reported that the district is serving meals to families who requested them and also supplying meals to ten Eastchester families.

The next meeting of the Board will be on Monday May 11, when the board is expected to adopt the proposed budget for 2020-21.

BudgetIncreaseThe school administration presented new numbers for the proposed 2020-21 school budget, reducing the proposed budget to budget increase to just 1.07% and the proposed tax levy increase to 2.15%. This is the second lowest increase in the past 10 years and on a par with peer districts in the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association.

Assistant Superintendent Mattey presented new estimates of expenses and revenues since school has now been closed for many weeks and economic conditions have changed. The district has realized some savings since the schools are closed, but at the same time anticipates that revenues from state aid, sales tax and interest will decrease.

Here are the latest assumptions for the end of year balance for the 2019-20 School Budget:

State Aid: For this year, the state had committed $800,000 in aid to Scarsdale. Assuming no changes are made, Mattey projected a $156,000 surplus in state aid for 2019-20.

Interest earnings are expected to drop by $395,000 due to the economy.

Sales tax was expected to rise dramatically, but has now been decreased to a surplus of $412,000.

Assigned fund balance is currently anticipated to decline by $1.1 million

Use of reserves is expected to be a deficit of $221,000 which will no longer be used for cooling projects.

The total proposed revenue deficit for 19-20 is $1,148,000.

The picture for expenses for this year has also changed.

Mattey anticipates a $1.4 million surplus in the health insurance account because the district received a $400,000 rebate from the prescription benefit plan, claims have decreased and stop loss insurance collections are reduced by $500,000.

A spending freeze for non-essential expenses will yield a surplus of $920,000.

Salary savings resulting from the school closing will yield savings of $820,000.

Due to a decrease in price and use, the district will save $500,000 for oil and gas.

Special education costs will rise as a result of an increase in the number of students requiring special education services at a cost of $1,074,000.
Other savings from security, bus fuel, safety monitors will be $825,0000.

The total surplus from expenditures is anticipated to be $3,390,000.

Putting all this together, Mattey anticipates that the district will end the fiscal year on 6-30-20 with a fund balance of $24,483,216, which is $2.2 million higher than the fund balance at the end of the last school year.

Looking forward to 2020-21, Mattey examined what happened to state aid in times of large budget deficits from NYS and has recommended reducing anticipated state aid to Scarsdale by $920,488 for next year. He also believes sales tax revenue will continue to decline and reduced that by $181,000. He anticipates further savings in health insurance ($820,000) and an increase of $300,000 for special education, due to the rising number of students.

Adding all this up, Mattey presented the following proposed budget for 2020-21:

Total Draft Budget $162,508,332
Budget to Budget Increase 1.07%
Projected Increase in Tax Levy 2.15%

Projected Tax Increase:
Town of Scarsdale 1.99%
Town of Mamaroneck 2.81%

taxlevyhistory

The state has ruled that the budget vote should be held no sooner than June 1. Therefore, the administration recommended that the board adopt the 20-21 budget at their meeting scheduled for May 11 with a possible budget hearing on May 19. Mattey questioned how the election could be run while respecting social distancing rules. Many of the people manning the polls are senior citizens so he wondered how this could be safely conducted.

Several of the school board members commented on the budget.

Chris Morin said, “I think our challenges are going to deepen for a while. The Governor is saying that our situation is only going to grow more dire. Next year’s TRS number will grow more difficult. As we look ahead, do we have any strategy for dealing with our budget constraints (such as mandates, civil service rules etc.)?

Scott Silberfein said, “I think the current proposed budget falls short for our taxpayers. I am not advocating for deeper cuts. But I would advocate for a greater use of our assigned fund balance. This is a year when it is probably necessary to give relief …. I don’t want to use too much as we could be in a worse position next year.”

Board President Pam Fuehrer said, “The 1.01% budget increase that is proposed now is among the lowest in our peer group. For these nine schools the average for the tax levy increase is 2.4%. Compared to our peers and West-Put school districts it is what we are seeing across the board.”

Stuart Mattey responded: “We considered further use of the fund balance – above the $1.1 million. The danger is, if we thought this would only go on for one year, we could use more assigned fund balance as a band aid. But if this downward turn continues, we would dig a hole that we would have to dig out of twice.”

Ron Schulhof said, “When you look at the budget to budget increase of just 1%, the administration has done a good job of finding places to cut expenses. If we try to reduce taxes with fund balance this year, we might be in a difficult place next year. We are already using $300,000 more. I think the community supports the core educational program and not making cuts to it. I would like to hear from the community.”

Carl Finger said, “A lot of work has been done and I would like to hear what other people have to say about it.”

The board invited public comments.

SHS PTA President Deb Morel read the following statement from the SHS PTA Executive Committee:
The Scarsdale High School PTA Executive Committee appreciates this opportunity to comment on the proposed 2020-2021 School Budget. We hope everyone here and in the Scarsdale community is well and coping with the new “normal” of social distancing. We also appreciate what a difficult time this is, and thank the members of the Board of Education and both the District and the High School Administrators, particularly Dr. Hagerman, Mr. Mattey, Mr. Martin and Mr. Bonamo, for their commitment to the education of our students and for their time, expertise, and responsiveness during the budget process.

The High School PTA Executive Committee stands by its previous statements of support for all of the High School administration’s requests, but we acknowledge and agree that some of those, including the staffing additions, the renovation of Art Room 215 and the Quiet Study Space in the library, while necessary, are more appropriate for future budget cycles.

We fully support the District’s recommendation at the March 30th Budget Session against personnel cuts in the 2020-21 school budget. We expressly do NOT support reductions to faculty or staff at the high school that would increase class sizes, decrease curriculum offerings or negatively affect the support our students get and need from resources like the Learning Resource Center, the Math and Writing Centers, the Counseling Department or the College & Career Center.

With respect to the high school auditorium project, we continue to support the full project as necessary for the safety and education of our students and all community members who use the space. Though we respect and accept the Board’s decision to trim next year’s budget in response to economic concerns related to COVID-19, we strongly urge the Board to transfer from Debt Service the approximately $730,000, originally part of the 2014 Bond and earmarked for the auditorium, to the project fund in the 2020-21 budget to accomplish--or at least start-- some of the most critical items on the auditorium project list in the coming year.

We remind the Board and the community that this budget is for the entire upcoming school year-- a year, I sincerely hope, that our children can enjoy with each other and their teachers using our school buildings and facilities to their full capacity and potential. We must develop and pass a budget that can support that learning and activity, and that upholds the excellence of Scarsdale schools.

Again, we appreciate your time and efforts on behalf of Scarsdale High School, our students, and the larger community, and your consideration of our comments this
evening.

Claudine Gecel of 10 Kent Road said, “This budget book is getting more appropriate to the environment we find ourselves in. As this might go on for more than one year, TRS depends on the rate of return that is assumed, if they lower their rate of return we will have to increase our contributions… At some point health expenses will catch up – people won’t postpone treatment indefinitely. Maybe we can put the $770,000 in a reserve fund for use later… Maybe we have to look at big ticket items and assess whether we really need them. We are spending a lot of money on security services, all over the place. It’s a large number. Do we want to look at that? $1 or $2 million per year. Even though there are state mandates, we don’t necessarily have to comply with all of them.”

Mayra Kirkendall Rodriguez from Fox Meadow Road provided extensive data about unemployment and the economic downturn and called for minimizing any increases, though she said, “I would love to see an expanding budget. I have long advocated for more foreign language and math in the elementary schools.”

Art Rublin from Donellan Road said, “You have done a great job at striking the right balance. We know how affluent this community is in a lot of respects. In the scheme of things $400 is something folks can bear. The more consensus you can have on this board the better. If there is some increase in the use of the fund balance that you can agree to - $100, 000 or $200,000 – I would be comfortable with that… If Bronxville is approving a budget with an increase of 2%, we should keep this in mind. There is a point of diminishing returns in terms of cutting the tax levy.”

Bob Harrison spoke at length. Here are excerpts from his comments: “I would like to see a 0% increase. There are some years in which the budget has not been passed. My favorite expression is “shared sacrifice.” In 2009 the superintendent and top five administrations agreed to freeze their salaries. I am asking the top people who are on this call to offer to freeze your salaries for the coming year. You have your jobs. Many people in our community are not going to have any paycheck.

This is the time to use the fund balance. Maybe we’ll have a vaccine in 18 months and this will turn around. Thomas “I love you” – what’s the projected increase in your salary for the coming year? You don’t have to worry about a paycheck coming in. So I ask you – shared sacrifice. I ask you to bring the increase down to no increase.”

Robert Berg said, “We are in a severe crisis of unmatched proportions. We have to have shared sacrifices. A lot of our residents have lost their jobs and lost their savings. We have to pass a budget with their votes and I think the budget you are proposing is too high. You have to come in with a 0% increase. It’s doable. You can do it thought attrition. Share their teaching responsibilities with existing staff – share their responsibilities with administrators who are not teachers. You should have a standstill arrangement and not have any increases. That will save money. It’s fair. That’s a shared sacrifice. Or pay the tax bill in two installments. That would be a great benefit to taxpayers. You can do it without interest if you get the approval from the county to do that. The point is your school taxes are enormous and a great hindrance to selling your house. The taxes are killing our property values.”

Mattey responded to some of the questions raised. About the high school auditorium he said, “We will not use the $730,000 for the auditorium next year because the phasing doesn’t work. The first phase would be over $1mm, so none of those dollars are included. It’s on hold right now though we may consider a bond in the future.” About the health reserve and TRS reserves, Mattey said, “between the two pension reserves, we are just about at $4 million.”

Responding to Bob Berg’s idea of splitting the school tax bill to allow two payments, Fuerher said that the Board had asked for more information about splitting tax payments.

Note from the Scarsdale Schools re: Kindergarten Registration

Parents Encouraged to Complete Online Kindergarten Registration As Soon As Possible

The Scarsdale School District continues to offer online Kindergarten registration. Current residents who expect to have a child attend Kindergarten during the 2020-2021 school year are encouraged to complete this process as soon as possible. Although prospective Kindergarteners may register at any time prior to the start of the school year, completing this process early ensures a smooth placement process. Children whose fifth birthday falls on or before December 31, 2020 may be registered for the 2020-2021 school year.

Please visit www.scarsdaleschools.org/registration for instructions on how to register online.

Enrollment in one of the five elementary schools (Edgewood, Fox Meadow, Greenacres, Heathcote, and Quaker Ridge) is determined by the neighborhood in which you reside. If you do not know which elementary school serves your neighborhood, please contact the District Registrar, Nunzia Mauro, via email at registrar@scarsdaleschools.org.

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