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You are here: Home Section Table School News From the School Board: Deconstructing the 2020-21 School Budget, Renovations to SHS Auditorium and Mold at the Middle School

From the School Board: Deconstructing the 2020-21 School Budget, Renovations to SHS Auditorium and Mold at the Middle School

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.)



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.


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: 

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

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.

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