Friday, Apr 12th

earthquakemap(Updated 4-6) Mother Nature is making her presence known. After high velocity winds and driving rain on Wednesday, Scarsdale was hit by an earthquake on Friday morning April 5 around 10:20 am. According to the Yonkers Police the quake was measured at 4.8 and it originated in Lebanon, New Jersey.

Initially the rumble caused some to think that winds had picked up, something had fallen on their roof or an airplane was overhead. But when it continued, the shaking sent many out into the streets to avoid potential injuries inside.

We contacted the Scarsdale Police who have not heard about any damage now. An emergency notification from Scarsdale says, “A regional earthquake just occurred with a 4.7 magnitude. At this time, the Village of Scarsdale is not aware of any hazards or earthquake-related emergencies. If you experience a gas leak or odor of natural gas, please contact 1-800-75-CONED and the Scarsdale Fire Department at 914-722-1217.

An email from Eric Rauschenbach from the Scarsdale Schools sent at 10:50 am says, "As you are aware, the area just experienced a tremor which shook the buildings. At this time all students and staff are safe. We have put the District into a hold in place to allow our facilities crew to check all of the buildings and utilities to assure there is no damage or danger. We will communicate once we have additional details or the hold in place is lifted."

Yonkers Police also say, “there is no reported structural damage or injuries in Yonkers resulting from this incident.”

Westchester County Executive George Latimer sent the following email: “Westchester County, along with the rest of the tristate area, experienced 4.7-magnitude earthquake around 10:23 a.m. according to the US Geological Survey. While we are still checking in with County Departments and municipalities, at this time we have received no reports of damage. Holtec is reporting no damage as well as ConEdison, and the electrical grid and Department of Environmental Facilities (DEF) plants. Residents should check for gas or water leaks, or any structural damage to their homes. Airport operations are continuing uninterrupted. Understandably, this is an unnerving experience, but Westchester County appears to have no ongoing emergencies due to the earthquake. While the earthquake was prolonged and noticeable, it is not dissimilar to what we have experienced in the past with other earthquakes. The Westchester County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will remain activated as a precaution, and provide updates as needed. As aftershocks are common following an earthquake, residents are advised to stay alert.”

The earthquake was felt in Manhattan and as far as Vermont and Philadelphia.

A tweet from Governor Hochul said, “A 4.8 magnitude earthquake hit west of Manhattan and has been felt throughout New York. My team is assessing impacts and any damage that may have occurred and we will update the public throughout the day.”

At 6 pm that night a 4.0 magnitude aftershock hit the area and shook the walls again. This one seemed shorter but rattled windows and confidence in the earth under our feet.

Slide9The Board of Education meeting on Monday March 25th, wasn’t just full of talk about the budget! In the business portion of the meeting that took place after long hours of thoughtful budget discussion, administrators shared an intriguing Education Report in addition to a few other exciting announcements. The announcements included the appointments of two new principals, an upcoming PTA program, and a new partnership with the JED Foundation.

To start, Superintendent Dr. Drew Patrick and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources, Meghan Troy announced the appointments of two new principals in our district. First, the BOE welcomed and congratulated the current Interim Principal at Scarsdale Middle School Mr. Chris Coughlin on his appointment as the new principal at SMS. Mr. Coughlin took a moment to thank the BOE and to share that the hiring process allowed him to reflect on how amazing our students are, how world class our staff is, and how supportive our families are here in Scarsdale. He feels incredibly honored to be given the privilege of his new role at SMS.

Troy also announced that, coming to us from the Anne Hutchinson Elementary School in Eastchester, Annette Keane has been appointed as the new Edgewood Elementary School Principal. You can read more about both new principals here

Interactive Workshop on Civil Discourse

In updates from board members, Suzie Hahn invited parents to attend a program titled, “Appropriate Discomfort: How Scarsdale's Students Learn to Engage in Civil Discourse,: on April 4 at 7 pm in the ILab on the second floor of the high school.

She explained, “In Scarsdale, we prioritize cultivating intellectually rigorous learning environments in which students actively engage multiple perspectives and have access to divergent thinking and ideas. This can be, by design, uncomfortable, especially as arguments can disrupt strongly held beliefs.”

The interactive workshop will be lead by Meredith Dutra, Media Literacy Specialist, and Edgar McIntosh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum in which they'll demonstrate the strategies, methods, and tools that Scarsdale teachers use to have students civilly engage in complex, informed, and sometimes difficult conversations. They will discuss how these tools can be applied to classrooms, board rooms, and family discussions.

Mental Health Initiative

Before giving a Strategic Plan update, Dr. Patrick announced that along with 14 other schools nationwide, the Scarsdale School District was selected to participate in the JED Foundation’s "District Comprehensive Approach" (DCA) pilot. This transformational program will guide districts in improving systems of support for pre-K-12 students’ emotional well-being, provide powerful professional learning experiences, and develop a strategic plan for building comprehensive student mental health and suicide prevention programming. Inaugural district cohort members will be at the forefront of learning and leading powerful mental health and suicide prevention practices that will benefit both staff and students.”

Patrick explained that he is excited to partner with the JED Foundation, a non-profit organization, and to have their help in identifying emerging current mental health priorities and the best action steps to take with what we learned from our District’s recent “Belonging Survey”.

Patrick is also quoted saying, “Two of the most critical prerequisites for each student’s complete development and contribution to the community, society, and world are developing a sense of belonging and experiencing well-being. Unfortunately, the trend among youth suggests these attributes are harder to develop and maintain in today’s world, and one of the indicators of this is the increased demand for mental health care resources. We believe that the District Comprehensive Approach is a valuable tool that we can use within our community to help address these trends. Through the implementation of this approach across our schools, we can help students and their caregivers know how to access the support they need to be successful and achieve the sense of belonging and well-being they need to thrive.”

In his update about the District’s Strategic Plan, Dr. Patrick began with a reminder that part of developing a community-owned strategic plan that supports our District’s vision and mission, is gathering feedback from community stakeholders. The District started to gather feedback in November of 2023 when it hosted its first World Café with the faculty and collected thousands of comments. Then in Nov./Dec. 2023, the District held more World Cafés (2 in person, 1 on zoom) with community members and gathered hundreds of more comments. In January, 2024, they administered a Community Survey which garnered 130 respondents and over 1,000 comments.

The following slide shows the themes that emerged from the gathered feedback:

Slide6

Patrick noted that the District’s partnership with the JED Foundation will help to facilitate the growth of many of the skills that were identified as emerging priorities such as Life skills, Social Skills, Social-emotional Learning, Growth Mindset, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Communication, and Collaboration Skills.

Also during the Education Report, Superintendent of Curriculum, Dr. Edgar McIntosh gave an inspiring presentation about Project Based Assessments. We will provide an in-depth look at this presentation in an article next week.

(This letter was written by Jeffrey Watiker)JeremyGans2024

Dear Editor,

I write in unconditional support of Jeremy Gans for re-election as Village Trustee. Given the commitment of time and energy required to serve on the Board of Trustees, I am appreciative of anyone willing to serve, especially for a second term. However, even among the talented persons who have served as Trustees, both currently and in the past, Jeremy truly stands out.

I was privileged to work closely with Jeremy for several years on the Scarsdale Board of Zoning Appeals and since that time I have continued to work closely with him in his capacity as the assigned Trustee liaison to the Village land use boards. He is hard-working, dedicated, a very good listener and a fast learner. He is detail oriented and yet also able to grasp the big picture. He is both a team player and a person will exercise independent judgment when the circumstances warrant. If re-elected, I have every confidence his presence on the Board will help assure that our Village government continues to operate efficiently and fairly.

Accordingly, I strongly encourage all Scarsdale residents to join me in voting for Jeremy on March 19th.

Jeffrey Watiker
8 Wynmor Road

(This letter was written by William and Cynthia Roberts)

To the Editor: Jeremy Wise, Candidate for Scarsdale Village Trustee

JeremyWiseWe are writing in enthusiastic support of Jeremy Wise for Village of Scarsdale Trustee.

I have known Jeremy since our shared childhood in New Rochelle, NY. Longtime residents of Scarsdale, Jeremy and his wife Randi Wise, have lived here for 33 years.

My wife, Cynthia, and I have lived in Scarsdale for 24 years and have followed many municipal issues closely. This has provided a picture of the myriad challenges that can face our Village Board. We have never been as excited about a potential Trustee as we are now.

Jeremy brings an unusually rich experience to the table as a potential Trustee.

After graduating from Columbia University and Boston College Law School, Jeremy has spent most of his more than 40-year career in public service. He just retired from his most recent role, having served for 23 years as General Counsel to a state appointed board responsible for overseeing the finances of Nassau County, NY.

In that role, he gained an intimate understanding of the intricacies of running a municipality. He worked closely with the state appointed board on labor relations, contracts, budgets, and multi-year financial plans. Jeremy was also responsible for compliance with regulations addressing such areas as personnel, ethics and access to public information.

Jeremy worked collaboratively with the elected officials and staff of a large municipality to ensure that the residents of Nassau County were well-served in a fiscally responsible manner.

These experiences make him particularly well suited to the responsibilities of Trustee in Scarsdale. He would work in a collaborative manner with the Mayor and other Trustees, as well as with the Village Manager and other full time staff of Scarsdale.

On a personal note Jeremy is an avid gardener, and he and his wife are dedicated hikers and swimmers who use the local facilities several times per week year-round. His energy is seemingly endless.

He has a gracious manner and a warm sense of humor. He and his wife, Randi, enjoyed raising their two children in Scarsdale and are now happily involved grandparents.

With his work experience and these personal qualities, Jeremy’s energy, wisdom and collaborative nature would make him an ideal Trustee to represent the interests and welfare of the residents of Scarsdale.

Sincerely,
William and Cynthia Roberts
15 Autenrieth Road

BoardPortrait22 23(The following letter was written by Scarsdale School Superintendent Drew Patrick, School Board President Ron Schulhof and School Board Vice President Suzie Hahn.)

Dear Scarsdale Community,

We are seeking your feedback on the proposed budget for the 2024-2025 school year. We hope you will take this opportunity to review the proposed budget, which was presented during the March 11th Budget Study Session #3 and is outlined on slide 23. This year’s budget was especially challenging, given the desire to continue and expand our educational programming while managing many fiscal headwinds. We believe the proposed budget finds the appropriate balance of delivering the educational programs and services that our students deserve and that our community expects while being responsive to the fiscal realities that many school districts are facing. The proposed budget reflects an increase of 3.96% over the current year budget, and a tax levy increase of 4.39%.

On March 25th, the Board will hold a Budget Forum where the administration will review the budget process and proposed budget, the community will be invited to share their feedback, and the Board will discuss any potential budget updates in response to community feedback. The Board is then expected to vote on April 8th on the final budget to present to the community during the May 21st public budget vote.

Budget Accomplishments
As it stands, the current proposed budget continues the programs and services that we think our students deserve and that our community expects. We will continue to deliver the exceptional level of instruction provided through small class sizes at the elementary level, the house and team structure at the middle school, and vibrant programs of study at the high school. Mental health and special education staffing and resources put in place over the last several years will be continued. While the proposed reductions from the administration’s original budget will mean we have to postpone the start of some new classes and programs to the future, our students will continue to receive the highest level of education throughout their K-12 experience.

What is Driving the Budget Increases?
As with many other organizations and school districts, we are facing a number of large cost increases due to inflation, health care, and other non-discretionary expenses. The major drivers of the year to year increase in expenses are contractual salaries and wages, health and other employee benefits, retirement contributions, social security, and contractual services including education services providers and maintenance and transportation contracts. We have also increased our headcount over the past years in response to the increasing numbers and needs of students in special education, which are mandated services. Put simply, both the growth in the programs serving students and increases in the cost of goods and services have collectively created the pressure we are now experiencing.

Changes from the Administration’s Initial Budget Proposal
Initially, the administration proposed a preliminary budget on February 5 reflecting a 5.08% year to year budget increase and tax levy increase of 5.6% to fully deliver their program goals. Over the past many weeks, the administration has been responsive to the Board’s requests to seek expenditure reductions from that proposal. While the Board fully supported the educational goals in the budget, the Board believed it was prudent to consider expense reductions. The current proposal has reduced expenditures by $2 million through two tranches of reductions: (a) The first tranche of approximately $1M in reductions as discussed during the March 4th meeting, and the second tranche of approximately another $1M in reductions discussed at the March 11th meeting. It is important to note that the second tranche of reductions does impact the administration’s original list of budget goals for next year, including the deferrals of a new Financial Literacy class and an advanced math class at the high school and reducing expenditures on new safety & security items.

Community Feedback
We are now at a critically important point in the budget development process. We urge you to review the budget materials linked herein and found on our website or watch the most recent budget presentation and discussion from March 11th, and share your feedback on the proposed budget between now and Monday, March 25, 2024. You may also wish to share your input directly with us at the Budget Forum at 6:30 PM March 25th. The full budget book is also now available. Some questions you may wish to consider:

Do you have feedback about the second tranche of reductions that impact some of the original budget goals?

Are there additional items you would have liked the administration and Board to consider, either adding or removing from this year or future year budgets?

How do you feel about the level of budget and tax increase being proposed?

We encourage you to stay engaged with the conversation, and look forward to your feedback. The Board of Education and Superintendent can be emailed at boardofed@scarsdaleschools.org.

Public Vote on the Budget
As you may know, approximately 10 years ago New York State instituted a new threshold to local school district budgets which requires a 60% voter approval to approve a school budget, rather than a simple majority vote. This threshold, often referred to as the "tax cap," is the lower of 2% or inflation, adjusted for various other local factors such as capital projects. This year the threshold for Scarsdale Schools is 3.63%. Since the proposed budget results in a 4.39% tax increase, it will require a 60% approval this year to pass. It is our view that the proposed budget is in the best interest of our students and that further reductions, including the elimination of additional expenditures to bring the budget within the “tax cap,” would significantly impact the ability of the Scarsdale Schools to meet our academic goals and priorities. Some examples of further cuts to the budget would include eliminating 3-4 teaching positions and canceling all Varsity and Junior Varsity “B” teams. A full list of potential reductions needed to meet the “tax cap” is available on slides 31-34 in the March 11th presentation.

Ultimately, each School District retains local control in determining the appropriate budget to deliver the educational programming and experience desired by the community. It is our belief that the proposed budget balances the educational expectations of our students and community while respecting our fiscal responsibilities.

Sincerely,

Ron Schulhof, Board of Education President
Suzie Hahn, Board of Education Vice President
Dr. Drew Patrick, Superintendent

JeremyWiseScarsdale’s Jeremy Wise has been nominated by the Citizens Nominating Committee to run for Scarsdale Village Trustee. You can meet him at a candidate’s meet and greet at Scarsdale Library on Sunday March 10 from 12:30 – 2 pm. And remember to vote in the election on Tuesday, March 19 in the Scott Room at Scarsdale Public Library at 54 Olmsted Road. Voting hours will be from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm.

We asked him to answer a few questions and here is what he shared:

Tell how about yourself: How long have you lived in Scarsdale and why do you enjoy living here?

I have been a resident of Scarsdale for 33 years. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to raise my children here and take advantage of all that the Village has offered to me and my family.

Tell us about your education and professional experience. What were some of the highlights of your career?

I have studied, written about, and worked in local government throughout my adult life. I graduated magna cum laude from Columbia where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. I majored in political science with an emphasis on local government. Shortly after graduating from college, I had an article entitled, “The Roles of the City Manager,” published in a nationally recognized magazine.

In the succeeding years, I worked primarily as an attorney in legal positions related to state or local government. For the past 23 years, I was the General Counsel of a New York State Authority that the State Legislature put in place to assist in Nassau County’s fiscal recovery.

During my 23 years at the Authority, I was involved in all matters related to the County’s fiscal health. These included its contracts, labor relations, budgets, and multi-year financial plans. I was also in charge of issuing billions of dollars of bonds on behalf of the County. As the chief legal officer of a State public authority, I was also responsible for compliance with numerous laws and regulations in areas such as freedom of information, ethics, and personnel.

Why did you decide to run for Village Trustee now?

Now that I have retired, I have more time to devote to community service and to share my experience in local government with the wider community.

What expertise do you hope to share with the Board of Trustees?

I have experience in almost every aspect of local government and the laws and regulations that apply to them. For example, I am familiar with budgeting, property tax challenges, debt issuance, contracting, and labor relations.

Based on your experiences as a resident, what are some of the challenges that are facing the Village?

The Village faces most of the same challenges as other government entities. These include law enforcement, tax caps, funding capital improvements, long term obligations to employees, land use and labor relations.

As a trustee, what would you like to work on?

I have a significant amount of experience in budgeting and borrowing for the provision of local services, so I suppose my input might be most valuable in those areas.


Regardless of what I work on, I will always consider myself an advocate for the residents and a knowledgeable liaison to the employees of the Village.

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