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VillageTaxAlbeit relatively brief, Tuesday’s Village Board of Trustees meeting offered residents a good amount of information about where Scarsdale is headed in the coming months.

“One of the Best” Budget Processes

A day after the latest village budget work session, Trustee Justin Arest provided an update on the planning process, describing it as “one of the best conducted, with greater detail, better analysis, and with a very healthy combination of dialogue and debate among trustees and staff.” The draft village budget for 2020-21 translates into a tax levy increase of 1.986%, or $129 for the average Scarsdale property owner. The property tax cap for the village is 4.84%, or a $1.9 million total increase over last year.

In discussing the village’s efforts to balance needs with cost, Arest said that the first pass of the budget represented a $1,004,330 million or 2.437% increase, and the village has continued to reduce the tax increase after two additional reviews.

“Despite some difficult burdens, including, but not limited to, mandatory personnel compensation and increases, smart planning, some fortuitous additional revenue, and reduced expenses, we’ve been able to produce a budget that is sensitive to pressures faced by our residents without a reduction in services, and… also includes a very aggressive capital plan,” he reported.

The proposed capital plan addresses Scarsdale’s aging infrastructure, while focusing on public safety and quality of life. Village staff have allocated funds to ensure that capital projects are planned appropriately and collaboratively, with input from staff and community, particularly important in light of the ongoing Freightway process. Arest stressed the importance of careful consideration of future “build-once opportunities,” stating, “Whatever we build must be better than what we’re replacing and suit our needs for decades to come.”

Mayor Marc Samwick followed by saying, “As is typical of budget discussions, our deliberations focused on balancing different choices and priorities. It is also important to note that a guiding principal for our work is to propose a budget that, to the greatest extent practical, serves the village as a whole.” He then thanked residents who have participated in budget work sessions to date and invited the public to participate in future meetings – the operating budget briefing session will be held at village hall on Thursday, February 27 at 7:00 pm, and the capital budget session will be held at village hall on Wednesday, March 4 at 7:00 pm.

Voters Choice Part Throws Hat Into Ring


During the meeting’s public comment portion, Bob Berg (Tisdale Road) announced that he just had filed his nominating petition as a Voters Choice Party (VCP) candidate for village trustee. Scarsdale Village elections are scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, and the VCP will present three candidates who will run for three open village trustee seats – Berg, Sean Cohen, and Bob Selvaggio. They will oppose Scarsdale Citizens’ Non-Partisan Party candidates Justin Arest, Lena Crandall (both currently serving as trustees), and Randy Whitestone.

In speaking about a contested election Tuesday, Berg stated, “It makes it more interesting and involves the residents more in our democratic process, so that’s always good.”

As it was two years ago, the VCP’s primary platform is to provide residents with an alternative to Scarsdale’s traditional single party process. According to the group, “Residents of Scarsdale deserve a choice of candidates for their important elected village officers. These VCP candidates are each exceptionally qualified and committed to provide common sense, workable solutions to the village’s pressing problems, while preserving its character as a village of single family homes.”

Scarsdale Pledges to be Climate Smart

climatesmartAddressing another topic of interest to residents, the trustees unanimously passed a resolution to become a New York State Climate Smart Community (CSC), working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to a changing climate. Trustee Lena Crandall presented the resolution, stating, “The Board of Trustees believes that climate change poses a real and increasing threat, exhibiting the potential for significant harmful disruption to natural and human systems, including environmental, social, and economic impacts… sustainability and resilience themes are woven into the rich tapestry of our community, and our municipal operations and infrastructure increasingly reflect our collective consciousness in that regard.”

As a CSC, Scarsdale has pledged to incorporate 10 elements in future planning and policy making, including:

• Building a climate-smart community;
• Monitoring emissions, setting goals, and planning for climate action;
• Decreasing energy use;
• Shifting to clean, renewable energy;
• Using climate-smart materials management;
• Implementing climate-smart land use;
• Enhancing community resilience to climate change;
• Supporting a green innovation economy;
• Informing and inspire the public; and
• Engaging in an evolving process of climate action.

While these actions lead to obvious positive environmental change, they also are expected to present other benefits such as:

• Cost savings through greater energy efficiency;
• Greater energy independence and energy security;
• Improved air quality;
• Healthier, more walkable communities;
• Conservation of green spaces for recreation and biodiversity;
• Reduction of future flood risk;
• Investment in sustainable and green businesses;
• Greater community engagement around the topic of climate change;
• Grant application bonus points for some state funding programs; and
• A robust framework to organize local climate action and highlight priorities.

The next step is to register with New York State to be designated as a Registered CSC, and then establish a CSC task force, which will advise and collaborate with village staff to develop plans, programs, and activities connected with the CSC

Odds and Ends

The Mayor noted that the official Freightway public comment period closed this past Sunday, but the administration continues to welcome residents’ feedback and input. “The board is listening to the community and we share the community’s focus on school and fiscal impacts,” he said. “As we have said and it is worth repeating, the board will not support a project that does not have a positive economic benefit to the village and the school district, or a project that would harm the quality of education that our children receive.”

Once assembled and reviewed by village staff, all comments submitted to the village will be made public.

Ed Morgan, representing the Scarsdale Arts Council, announced that an art fair will come to the village this summer. After almost two years of planning, the council will host the Scarsdale Summer Art Festival 2020 from mid-July through the first part of August.

The festival will feature a high-quality, juried art show, an exhibition of student art, and a variety of other events to be announced shortly. Local artists, as well as those from surrounding counties and states, will be invited to submit proposals for works in a variety of media to be showcased via a special prospectus that also will be distributed widely in the community.

The Scarsdale Public Library and Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation staff, with the assistance of the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, will assemble, install, and maintain the “Little Free Library” kiosks at Brite Avenue Park, Crossway Field, Hyatt Park, Chase Park, and Harwood Park/Library Pond. The kiosks, promoted by local Scarsdale student Danielle Kohn, will be similar to those offered by many municipalities throughout the country and Westchester County, and are believed to foster a sense of community and beautify surroundings.

Kohn has secured funding for a total of four kiosks, valued at $1,320 in the aggregate, with supporting gifts from the Friends of the Scarsdale Parks, Friends of the Scarsdale Library, and the Scarsdale Foundation.

sbamarcyThe Scarsdale Business Alliance, now almost two years old, held their annual meeting at Great Stuff on Thursday January 30. Marcy Berman Goldstein, co-President welcomed the group and updated the membership on the past activities of the SBA and plans for the coming year.
See her remarks below:

Welcome to our first Annual Membership Meeting. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Marcy Berman-Goldstein and I am co-President of the SBA. I would like to introduce Melissa DiFabio, SBA Executive Assistant and Program Director as well as my co-President, Ken Giddon.

I would like to thank Great Stuff for hosting us this evening, Zachys for donating the wine, and DeCiccos and Standing Room Only for the food and water. We would also like to thank SBA photographer, Mark Jessamy, for being here as always!


As many of you know, the Scarsdale Chamber of Commerce became defunct in 2016, and The Acceleration Project had been acting as the default Chamber in the interim. The Scarsdale Business Alliance incorporated in April 2018, under the guidance of TAP, with the short term goal of continuing the Annual Summer Sidewalk Sale.

A Board of Directors was formed, with like-minded individuals, dedicated to the Village of Scarsdale and its local businesses. Our long term goals were for the SBA to serve as a unified voice of the Scarsdale business community and a liaison to the Village government, manage and direct 3-4 community events annually, host 3-4 Meet & Greet networking events throughout the year, and provide an interactive website and social media presence to promote and unite our SBA members.

We currently have 16 voting board members serving a two-year term, a Village Trustee Liaison and 2 liaisons from The Acceleration Project.

Over the past two years, the Scarsdale Business Alliance (SBA) has built a dynamic organization of approximately 80 merchants and non-retail service providers. We have brick-and-mortar members in Scarsdale Village, Garth Road, Scarsdale Avenue, Depot Place, Central Avenue, Golden Horseshoe, and Colonial Village, and well as home-based businesses and businesses outside 10583. The SBA has several committees that members are encouraged to join, including membership, public relations, events and government relations. Our goal is to engage and sustain our current members as well as continue to grow our membership.


Last year, in addition to the annual summer sidewalk sale, we held two new successful community events: The Health, Beauty & Wellness Fair in the spring with over 700 attendees, and Scarsdale Music Festival in September with over 3000 attendees. Work is under way for both of these events this year which we anticipate to be even more successful than last. The Scarsdale Business Alliance is not able to support itself and run on membership dues alone. Sponsorship funding and money raised at our community events is critical for our operational expenses.

In addition to these community events, the SBA is committed to continuing the Shop and Dine the ‘Dale initiatives started by TAP.

The SBA board of directors has been working closely and collaboratively with Village officials and property owners to address the current vacancy issues we are facing. In addition we have also been working with TAP and the Scarsdale Forum to help improve Scarsdale and create a vibrant downtown center.


Some recent updates to share:

4ever Crystals - Glass Blown Store opened in the former Imagine Candy space at the end of October

Akai Lounge will open this year in the former Langes space
The Shade Store will be opening in the Candy N Cards space in March
New Hair Salon will be opening in the former Trio Salon location on Christie Place

Our social media presence continues to grow, with approximately 1450 local followers, and good engagement. Melissa DiFabio has been diligently working to help promote SBA members on Instagram and Facebook. Please make sure to respond to her requests for content to ensure all members are promoted equally. In addition, make sure to tag @scarsdalebusiness in your posts so she is able to repost in our story feed. An eblast was sent with more details about leveraging your social media advertising benefits.

We hope you will take the opportunity this evening to network and get to know our board of directors, SBA members and prospective members.

kindergarten“I decided when she was in-utero to keep her in preschool for an extra year.” 

“I’m sending him to kindergarten even though he’s not five until November because all of his preschool teachers say he is ready.”

“I know someone who held her July baby back from kindergarten because she wanted him to be the first to drive and I know someone who held her November baby back because she was concerned that his friends would be tired of going to Bar Mitzvahs by his Bar Mitzvah time.”  

“My daughter sent her 4-year-old son to kindergarten ‘on time’ because she really couldn’t justify paying for another year of preschool for her third child.” 

“Redshirting” is term used in college athletics to describe an athlete benched for a year so they will be bigger and stronger when they actually play. Malcom Gladwell’s 2008 book “Outliers” claims that a person’s age, relative to his/her peers, is a key predictor of success.  Gladwell helped expand the definition of “redshirting” to describe the parent-driven decision to hold their child back from a natural entry into kindergarten based on birth date and district cutoff. Initially, parents redshirted to gain a predicted “early boost” for their child based on the real or perceived notion that older children outperform their peers early on academically, socially and athletically. However, some studies have shown that the initial academic advantage older students have over younger students decreases over time. In fact, 2009 data from Scarsdale shows that younger students have a higher GPA at graduation than older students.


According to Edgar McIntosh, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment, re-analysis in 2019 showed no correlation between age at kindergarten start and GPA at graduation. A 2011 New York Times opinion piece suggests that more mature kids may actually be negatively affected by less mature peers at the grade school level. None of this takes into account social, emotional or developmental data points which some parents use to help make their decision.

Anyone who has had a boy in preschool with a birthday in the second half of the year has likely been asked whether they plan to hold their child back for an extra year before beginning kindergarten.  

A local program for five year olds promotes the year saying, “Give your child the gift of an extra year” as a marketing tool. What is this gift?  More sleep and play for one additional year? Going to kindergarten a stronger reader? Not being the smallest on the soccer team? The idea that the child will have a lifelong advantage over others? 

And how many parents are willing to pay the extra tuition? In our survey, only 8% of respondents said cost was a factor in deciding whether to delay kindergarten for their child. The majority (60%) said money was not a factor at all. However several parents commented that redshirting is “a gift” that some can’t afford.


Parents who decide not to redshirt their child now find that their kids can be 15, 18 or even 20 months younger than kids who have been redshirted. Kindergarten teachers report that teaching four through six-year-olds together can be challenging.

As per New York State law, school districts retain the right to decide in which grade to place a child in school, but Scarsdale and most other school districts allow the parents to ultimately make the call. (New York City, however, has a strict cut-off of December 31st for kindergarten in order “to make education more equitable”). When a parent registers a child for Kindergarten at one of the five public elementary schools, each individual child will undergo an assessment. The school will make a recommendation for placement and if a parent questions this, they are encouraged to reach out to their local school or Eric Rauschenback, Director of Special Education and Special Services. In fact, Mr. Rauschenback published the school’s position on redshirting last year in the Dale Dispatch: sent out a redshirting survey to the community and got a tremendous response rate. Schools in Westchester and elsewhere allow parents to make the decision to delay kindergarten while in New York City, there is a strict cut-off of December 31st for kindergarten in order “to make education more equitable”.  

Many parents wrote in saying that they felt stressed about having the responsibility to decide whether or not their child is socially, physically, emotionally and developmentally ready for kindergarten citing conflicting data regarding the pros and cons. Our local survey results, on the other hand, reveal that most parents don’t want to allow the schools to decide for them. A solid 57% of parents wanted control over kindergarten entry time versus 35% who said they think the schools should make the call.


The rest wrote in to say they would prefer for it to be a collaborative decision or that it shouldn’t be done at all. “Everyone should go to kindergarten according to their birthday,” wrote one respondent. “This would put everyone on a more level playing field, not having 4 and 6-year-olds in the same class. If they’re not ready for first grade, have them repeat kindergarten; if they’re not ready for college, have them take a gap year.” 

Back in 2013, we asked parents how they would describe their decision to redshirt their child and classified the decisions into three categories called “the three C’s”: compassionate, competitive or coerced.

Compassionate - This parent is genuinely concerned about their individual child’s kindergarten readiness and has sometimes been advised by a professional (e.g. pediatrician or preschool teacher) to redshirt based on the child’s developmental needs.   Some experts believe that children of this type may benefit from special services offered in public schools more so than a kindergarten delay. 

Competitive - This parent has generally reviewed the data that supports redshirting and believes that their child will have a competitive edge over his classmates if redshirted.  This purported “edge” can be academic, social, and/or athletic. 

Coerced - This parent feels pressured to redshirt their child because so many others are doing so and can see that they are skewing the kindergarten entry age. This parent is less likely to take their individual child into consideration when making the decision to redshirt and may be concerned that allowing their child a natural entry into kindergarten means that their child isn’t just 11 months younger than another child, but maybe even a year and a half younger.  

Our 2019 survey results revealed that about 40% describe their decision as compassionate, 14 % felt coerced, 5% felt competitive and 41% did not or would not redshirt their child. Several people commented that they really felt it was a combination of being coerced and competitive, or compassionate yet ultimately coerced.

When asked about why they decided to redshirt their child, the majority of people did so simply because of the child’s birthdate. The secondary reason was social followed closely by readiness. Physical attributes such as short stature ranked last as parents impetus for delaying kindergarten (Image G). One mom said, “My son gets tired early afternoon and still naps. Full-day kindergarten would be too hard on him.” A few other parents cited speech and motor delay issues as their reason to redshirt as well as being born prematurely. A mom commented, “I didn’t hold back our very young but big and bright son; it just didn’t seem like the right thing to do.” Yet another mom didn’t hold her daughter back, “…but now she’s 18 months younger than a couple other kids in her class which just seems unfair to me.” One dad admitted he did it because of how competitive other parents are and another parent said they redshirted because they thought there was a discrepancy between the child’s biological age and developmental age.

A Scarsdale preschool director and “3’s” teacher informed me that in her experience, most parents who solicit help in making the kindergarten decision feel like they fall into the “coerced” category.  “Kindergarten should be ready for children whether or not all children are ready for Kindergarten,” she said. For this site’s 2013 redshirting piece, Lynn Shain, who was serving as Scarsdale’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum pointed out, “…there are developmental differences between kids born on the same day and kids born 17 months apart.” 

So, what’s the answer? Because that’s why you’re reading this to the end, right? 

Jen Meerow Berniker published a letter to her son last year on the Scary Mommy blog, apologizing for being “so foolish” as to conceive him at a time that would result in her having to face the dilemma “…about whether or not to delay kindergarten…the parenting micro-crisis of the moment for parents of 4-year-olds with late birthdays.”   

She summarizes the entire idea of redshirting by saying, “At the time you are going through it, it seems like the most important decision ever, like you are holding your child’s fate in your hands, as if that arbitrary month in which they were born has something to do with who they will become, rather than just a data point in the larger picture of a life.” And with that, Jen sent her 4-year-old boy to kindergarten.

Community engagementThe following was sent to Scarsdale10583 by the Scarsdale League of Women Voters:

League Board Comment on Board of Education Community Engagement

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, Board of Directors (the “League Board”), appreciates this opportunity to offer input and comment on the Board of Education’s Community Engagement Process. The League Board believes that proactive community engagement is of vital importance to Board of Education members (the “Board”). The following thoughts and recommendations have been coalesced from past League consensus statements.

General Recommendations

As the League promotes the active participation of citizens in government; we encourage the Board:

to be proactive and wide-reaching in soliciting input and feedback;
to engage in dialogue with community members and groups to better and more fully understand constituent views and broader community priorities.

Some ways to achieve this would be Board coffees, focus groups and formal invitations to specific neighborhoods for Board meetings.

The League believes that a more complete picture of community feedback, combined with relevant expert opinions and research, will serve to enhance Board decisions on complex issues as well as facilitate community understanding and appreciation of the schools.

We encourage the Board to engage in a methodical public process to ensure that resulting Board policies and decisions accurately reflect Scarsdale community values.

The League recommends that the Board:

-engage early interest in District issues;
-actively seek input from residents to identify the range of community sentiment;
-engage in clear and timely communication methods;
-create spaces for dialogue.

Budget Process

In terms of the annual Budget process, the League recommends that the Board:

provide the community sufficient information and time necessary to view any Administration or Board member Budget recommendation within the larger
context of District educational goals, a master facilities’ plan, and through the lens of Scarsdale’s role as an educational leader.

The League believes that in order to understand what is at stake for our children and our community in the budget process and to make informed choices, voters need transparency on all value considerations including the needs that are not being addressed in any given proposed budget, in order to better understand the wider breadth of future District needs and plans.


The League recommends that the Administration and Board reinstate a Legislative Advisory Committee comprised of broad community representation, in order to:

-monitor relevant legislative issues;
-increase the number of community members educated on current issues;
-expand the community’s engagement;
-and to raise an awareness of the often-complicated legislative issues that may impact the district.

The League Board looks forward to further engagement with School Board members on process and policies to best support and enhance Scarsdale Schools and the community at large.

LeilaLeila Gordon Davis was born to 2006 SHS graduates, Lily Gordon and Zach Davis,  on 12/31/19, weighing 8lbs 11 oz. and 20.5” long.  Leila’s grandparents are Erica Horwitz and David Gordon of Scarsadle and Rona and Brandon Davis, formerly of Scarsdale.  New Year’s Eve will always be extra special for the family.

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