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votebymailScarsdale voters will be forced to act quickly if they want their votes for the school budget and school board candidates to be counted. This year, by Governor’s orders, voting is by mail. All ballots must be received by the district by June 9 to be counted.

However, due to the condensed timeline, the ballot packages will not be mailed until May 28. If they take 2-5 days to arrive in residents’ mailboxes, voters should receive their absentee ballots no later than June 3 (not counting Sunday) and will then need to mail them back immediately to meet the June 9 cut off. This only allows 5 business days for the ballots to be received by the district to be counted in the election.

Given the COVID crisis, if mail delivery is not speedy, many will miss this deadline.

We asked Scarsdale School Superintendent Thomas Hagerman for the timeline and this is what he explained.

An introductory postcard about the budget process will be mailed on May 21.

The district’s newsletter, “Insight”, containing detailed budget information will be mailed on May 27.

The absentee ballot packages will be mailed on May 28.

And the “six day” Property Tax Report Card postcard with the budget numbers will be mailed on 6/1.

Dr. Hagerman explained, “It is important to note that these are the days they will leave the publication house to be dropped off at the White Plains Post Office for processing. From there, they will be sent to the Scarsdale Post Office for distribution. We estimate that it will take another day or two to arrive in Scarsdale residents' mailboxes.”

The ballots will automatically be sent to all registered voters. However, qualified voters who are not registered can download an application for an absentee ballot on the district’s website here: www.scarsdaleschools.org/voterinfo. A qualified voter is defined as follows: “Voters are qualified if they are: a citizen of the United States, at least 18 years old by June 9, 2020, a resident of the Scarsdale School District for at least thirty days prior to June 9th and, not otherwise ineligible to vote.”

Voters will be asked to approve a $162,696,316 school budget for the 2020-21 school year, which represents a 1.5% increase for Scarsdale residents and a 2.31% increase for those in the Mamaroneck strip.

Voters will also elect two members of the school board, to fill the vacancies of current board members Scott Silberfein and Chris Morin who will complete their service on the board in June. Two candidates were vetted and nominated by the School Board Nominating Committee, who selected Robert Klein and Amber Yusuf. Mayra Kirkendall-Rodriguez is running as an independent candidate. An online candidates’ forum, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale, will be held on Sunday May 31 at 8 pm. Learn more here

Traditionally, if the school budget does not pass in the first round of voting, the Board of Education can present a revised budget to the community and hold a second vote. However this year, due to the delay in voting, this will not be possible.

The League of Women Voters of Scarsdale alerted the community to this issue, saying, “The new timeline does not allow sufficient time to revise the Budget and hold a second Budget vote. In the event the Budget is rejected by voters, the Board most likely would be forced, under State law, to adopt a contingency budget which requires a reduction in the tax levy and a steep reduction in permitted expenditures. The Board estimates that a contingency budget would require an additional $2.5 million in cuts and significantly alter many aspects of the conduct of school, including the reduction in staffing and the reduction of athletic and extracurricular activities.”

So watch for your ballot in the mail. When you do receive it, complete it and mail it back ASAP to be counted in the 2020 School Budget and Board election.

StephanieNewmanEdgemont’s Stephanie Newman is a woman of many talents: By day she’s an active clinical psychologist/psychoanalyst with over 15 years’ experience providing insight-oriented talk therapy for those with anxiety, depression, relationship and health difficulties.

Also a mother of two children, she somehow finds time to be a prolific writer. She is a co-editor of Money Talks and a regular contributor to the online edition of Psychology Today. We reviewed her first book, Mad Men on the Couch, which was named to Publisher's Weekly's Top Ten books in Performing Arts.

Now she has written her first novel on a topic that hits close to home; parenting. Her new novel is titled Barbarians at the PTA and takes place in an idyllic Westchester, NY, suburb known for its manicured lawns and excellent schools. The book is described as “Desperate Housewives meets Mean Girls in a heartfelt and hilarious novel about a mother-daughter duo facing cliques, cyberbullying, and snobs.”

We wanted to learn more about Newman, her practice, her writing and her new book, and here is what she shared:

How do you deal with friends or family members who are concerned that you may reveal their stories in your writing?

Barbarians at the PTA follows a Westchester mother daughter duo who navigate cliques, cyber bullies, and social media pressures while facing off against a group of over- involved moms. Think beach read about parenting as a contact sport.

In my “day job” I am a clinical psychologist, and very interested in maternal identity and how it evolves over the life of the mother and child. If the book offers one main take-away, it’s this: allowing kids to be independent is tough for all of us, but particularly difficult for moms whose primary source of identity is derived through mothering. And the situation becomes harder and increasingly fraught as their kids grow up and need less.

I have empathy for moms who wind up losing aspects of themselves as they struggle to parent. I encourage people to develop something of their own, a passion, whether it’s a job outside the home, a volunteer position that feels meaningful, or a creative outlet that sustains them. I adore my family but have been privileged to have a practice I enjoy, while being able to write.

How do you balance your career as a psychologist with your writing?Barbarians

Having a practice makes it possible for me to find time to write. My days are structured because I have standing therapy appointments—people see me at the same times each week—and schedule myself around patient hours. When I am not in session I have blocks of time for writing and editing.

From your bio, it is evident that you have many talents. Explain what you do for Money Talks.

Thank you for those kind words! Some mornings I don’t feel as though I’m very productive, especially now, navigating life during a pandemic. These days I count my blessings if I’ve managed to pull a brush through my hair! But to answer your question, Money Talks was a book I co-edited with Brenda Berger, a friend, colleague, and former psychotherapy supervisor of mine. We asked psychoanalysts to talk about the incursion of finances into the minds of therapists practicing in recessionary times. Before the book no one had talked about how psychotherapists experience money matters.

Do you have children of your own? How much of the book is autobiographical?

I am a parent of two beautiful kids (doesn’t that sound like something a game show guest would say?) and an Edgemont resident but Barbarians at the PTA is fiction.

Why were you inspired to write a novel?

I wrote the book to get a conversation going about relentless over-parenting. Whenever I talked to friends, regardless of where in the US they lived, to colleagues, or trainees in my field, I heard over and over the same themes, pains, and struggles. It got me thinking: wouldn’t it be fun to tell a story about how involved some people get, what impact it has on the kids. Maybe I could even help someone navigate the mommy minefields!

Did you pursue any formal training in fiction writing - or do you work with a group of writers?

I took classes at the Writers Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, where the instruction was excellent. I was also part of a writing group that met for a couple of years. During that time we shared excerpts and critiqued each other’s work. That experience was invaluable.

What messages are you hoping to convey to parents though your book?

Over the years I’ve had moments in practice and teaching or in daily life where I‘ve heard about or witnessed conflict around mothers and parenting and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe someone would behave that way towards another person’s child.”

But as I wrote and rewrote this novel, I realized the most engaging way to tell the story was to invent scenarios in which the characters were willing to go to the ridiculous extremes possible to advance the interests of their children. That’s what I did. It might sell a lot of books if I implied this was salacious gossip or an expose. But the characters and events in the novel are the product of my imagination. As it says inside the cover, “this book is a work of fiction. Names characters places and incidents are either the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales, or persons living or dead, is entirely coincidence!!”

Where will the book be available when it is published - how can our readers get a copy?

The book is out June 2. People can purchase it online now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indiebound.

RachelRachel KrisberghIn this month’s volunteer profile we interview Rachel Krisbergh who moved here less than five years ago and has already assumed leadership roles in several Village organizations. Meet Rachel and find out why she has embraced volunteerism and Scarsdale.

When did you move to Scarsdale and what was your initial volunteer activity?

I moved to Scarsdale in the summer of 2015 with my husband Jon and our two children, Jordan and Dylan. I began my volunteer work at the Early Childhood Center at Westchester Reform Temple where my children attended preschool. I was asked to be a co-chair for the preschool’s parent organization (similar to a PTA president) and then I got involved with many different committees within the temple as a whole. My children now attend the Jewish Learning Lab at WRT and I am still active on many of the same committees.

What is your professional or educational background? How does it relate to the volunteer work you have taken on?

Before moving to Scarsdale, I worked as a special education teacher in the New York City public school system. When we moved here, I decided I wanted to be home with my kids but wanted to stay active by volunteering in the school and the community. I love working with children and families and all of my volunteer positions allow me to do that.

Tell us about your work with CHILD – what initiatives did you work on? How do you work with the school district to advocate for children with special needs?

This year will be my second year as co-chair of C.H.I.L.D (Children Having Individual Learning Differences). C.H.I.L.D is a part of the PTC and supports families throughout the district who have a child receiving special education services or need academic, social, emotional support. C.H.I.L.D hosts many events throughout the school year, including parent coffee’s with district special education staff and administrators and information sessions for parents. C.H.I.L.D also invites presenters to speak to the school community about relevant topics. This year’s presentations were on healthy sleep habits for school age children and developing resilience and self-advocacy skills in children.

One of my main goals as co-chair of C.H.I.L.D is to increase the visibility of the organization. We have parent representatives in each school, from preschool through high school and we want these parents to be the first point of contact for other parents within that school. For the first time this past Fall, each representative hosted an informal breakfast for families to get to know each other and find support from parents dealing with similar issues. The breakfasts were very well received and we had plans for similar events this Spring that unfortunately, due to the school closure, had to be cancelled.

How did you get involved with Scarsdale Family Counseling Service?

I had worked closely with Dara Gruenberg through my work at Westchester Reform Temple. Dara knew that I wanted to continue supporting families and children in the community, so she introduced me to Scarsdale Edgemont Family Counseling Service (SFCS) as an organization with a great mission and dynamic board.

Tell us about your work with SFCS – why do you believe the group is an important resource for Village residents?

SFCS is celebrating 100 years of service in the community this year! I joined the Board in 2017 and currently serve on the Executive Committee. I support the organization in many ways but one of my main goals is to bring more awareness to the agency among residents who are new to Scarsdale or have younger families and may not know about the important services we provide.

This is my second year as the co-chair of the gala committee for SFCS. Our Centennial Gala, which was originally scheduled for the Spring, will now be held on October 8th at the Scarsdale Golf Club. Three years ago we created the Rising Star Award to honor young leaders in Scarsdale who demonstrate impactful community service. This year we will be honoring Marcy Berman-Goldstein with the Rising Star Award!

SFCS has proven to be an exceptional and essential part of our community because they offer something for everyone. SFCS provides individual and family counseling, social skills groups for young children, parenting groups for Middle and High School parents and many programs and supports for the aging population living at home in Scarsdale. I also enjoy working closely with Jay Genova, the Executive Director and with the excellent professional staff at SFCS.

What do you enjoy about living in Scarsdale?

I love the community! Our family has made life-long friends and we feel right at home in Scarsdale. Getting involved in local community groups has introduced me to so many smart, caring and dedicated volunteers that inspire me because they make Scarsdale a wonderful place for so many of us to raise our families.

In your view, what challenges face our Village?

I think the work that Marcy Berman-Goldstein and the Scarsdale Business Alliance are doing to revitalize our downtown area is critical. My husband is on the board of the Scarsdale Forum, which has also focused on this issue through its Downtown Revitalization Committee. We all love our community so much and it is so important to support the local businesses. Everyone wants to have a lively and bustling village center but we can’t do that without supporting the small businesses and restaurants.

What do you think is unique about Scarsdale and the people you work with here?

One of the things that I enjoy most about volunteering for so many different organizations is the people that I meet. Everyone brings such a unique perspective to the table and it is refreshing to be able to hear all the different viewpoints. Everyone that I work with truly cares about Scarsdale and making it a better place for all. Though you see many of the same faces on the volunteer circuit, everyone works tirelessly for their community and pours their heart and soul into what they do. We have a lot of very smart people here in Scarsdale and I have learned a lot from them which I carry into the work that I do.

If you had to advise a new resident about why and how to get involved, what would you recommend?

I recommend that people get involved in volunteer activities that interest them and suit their lifestyle. One thing I have found through volunteering in Scarsdale is that there are so many opportunities. Start with something that motivates you and go from there. It’s really easy to get involved - just raise your hand! Residents can look in the back of the community calendar or visit Scarsdale.com to see a list of the community organizations. Volunteers play such a critical role in the work that gets done in our schools and community. Even a small job makes a big difference!

AdvocaateApril

FoodDonationNow more than ever is a good time to be a good neighbor. Lending a friend a cake pan or sending over a plate of cookies takes on new significance when we rely on the generosity and kindness of our communities to get through these isolating times. What’s more, these acts of caring need not be limited to Scarsdale. Especially considering that we live directly adjacent to a borough of the hardest hit city in the country, it is a good time to think of our neighbors.

Two groups are asking you to help others in need of food.

Project Bravo

One issue this community faces even without a global pandemic thrown into the mix is food insecurity. The Bronx is a food desert, which is to say that most people lack reliable access to an adequate supply of food and, in turn, are more likely to be food insecure. Last year, Hunger Free America, a New York-based non-profit, published a report that found that nearly one in four Bronx residents—that’s 350,000 people—lived in food insecure households, the highest rate of any borough. Considering this situation at baseline, it is unsurprising that the onset of COVID-19 has overwhelmed many food banks and pantries in the Bronx.

These circumstances present an opportunity for us in Scarsdale to address this issue by sharing what we have with our Bronx neighbors. Scarsdale resident and Director of Corporate and Community Engagement in the Office of Development of the Montefiore Health System and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Sheryl Spivack-Braun is an exemplary link between our two communities, specifically with respect to food insecurity. During the pandemic, she has pivoted to take charge of filing in-kind donations of food, PPE, and other goods and then directing them where the need is greatest.

Specifically, she has been working with Montefiore’s Project BRAVO food pantry to provide packaged meals for community families who are experiencing food insecurity, particularly those of frontline healthcare staff. Additionally, Project BRAVO is partnering with Montefiore’s Healthy Steps program to distribute baby supplies to young families in need. The food pantry now serves roughly 450 families.

At this point, you might be asking how you can help. Even if you have a couple extra boxes of pasta sitting in your pantry or a couple extra dollars to spare on cans of baby food the next time you place an Instacart order, actually delivering those goods to the Bronx poses its own set of challenges. That’s where Charlie Musoff comes in.

Working together with Sheryl, he is coordinating regular donations to Project BRAVO from the larger Scarsdale community. On his first trip, he delivered over 100 pounds of food from only a handful of donors, namely Westchester Reform Temple’s Early Childhood Center. ECC teacher Anne Chapro Daniel met him outside the temple with all the snacks the nursery school no longer needed, and the next day, he dropped them off at Project BRAVO, simple as that. For individual families, the Musoffs have been accepting donations at their home in Scarsdale.

You can contact Charlie at charles.musoff@yale.edu for more information about how to donate. Or, if you’d rather make a philanthropic donation, consider contributing to Montefiore's or Einstein's Critical Response Care Fund. Please work together to ensure that our neighbors in the Bronx can put food on the table.

Heart for Philanthropy

HaffnerCyrus Toosi, Rowan Haffner, and Luca Dowda

SHS Sophomores Rowan Haffner, Luca Dowdall, and Cyrus Toosi have launched Heart for Philanthropy to help others during this difficult time. The mission of Heart for Philanthropy is to identify local organizations in need and connect them with Scarsdale (and Westchester County) neighbors to who want to donate/give back. As so many in Scarsdale want to help, the teens decided to help them, help others. Friends since elementary school, the three boys have always shared a passion for volunteering.

Although this is a very difficult time for everyone, hungry and homeless neighbors in our community are the ones struggling most. To start, they are working with three organizations: Grace Church, Open Arms Men's Shelter, and George Washington Elementary School. They will accept donations at the location designated on our website: www.heartforphilanthrophy.com to make it easy for everyone. More information about Heart for Philanthropy and how to make donations can be found on their website.

camptaconicNo one knows if school will resume before the summer, but what about summer camp? Now more than ever kids will want to get out of the house, play with friends and enjoy the great outdoors. Will day camps be open and will kids board the buses for sleepaway?

We spoke to some local officials and camp directors to see what they are thinking. Will camp open on time? Will there be changes in procedures or restrictions? Here is what we learned.

County Executive George Latimer said, Westchester County control a series of camps –the ones that take place at the county center that will have to relocated. We have put county summer camps on hold for now. The decision about camp opening is part of the Governor’s Executive Order and he will make the decision.

How about in Scarsdale? Will the rec camp be open? Deputy Village Manager Robert Cole said, “The Westchester County Department of Health is the permitting authority for all camps throughout the County. The County has mailed out the camp permit applications, which are not due back to the County until 60 days prior to camp opening. Brian Gray, our Parks and Rec Superintendent, serves as president for the Westchester Recreation and Park Society (WRAPS). Through WRAPS, he distributed a survey at the beginning of April inquiring whether communities had made any decisions about pool and camp operations. At that time, no Westchester County communities had cancelled either pool or camp seasons, though some had delayed pool openings, as Scarsdale has; none had reported delaying their camp season(s). The WRAPS survey recently went back out again for an update, with responses due back over the next week, or so.”

Cole continued, “With respect to camp staff, most municipalities, including Scarsdale, began sending out employment offers to returning staff in December/January. We recently notified our interested team members that we are still planning on operating our summer programs, including camps; however, we also let them know that our plans are subject to the broader constraints we are operating under, i.e., they could be delayed or canceled, as conditions dictate. While we are continuing with interviews by phone, we are not making employment offers until program status can be confirmed.”

We asked Jim Libman from Camp Hillard if it was likely that Hillard would run and he said, “Camps are very optimistic, but nothing is a certain. The feedback we are getting is that parents and kids are crossing their fingers for camp this summer! The good news is all summer camps have been classified as essential childcare. Presently, The CDC is preparing safety guidelines for camps to operate and will be releasing those to state and local health departments in May. Camps are awaiting more information from State officials which should come in May. The ultimate decision to open camps will be made by the state and local health officials. After that decision is made each camp must feel that it will be safe for all their campers and staff.

What about sleepaway camps? Will kids be boarding the buses in June? Here is the response we received from Amanda Krasnoff – Staffing and Programming Director at Camp Taconic in Hinsdale, MA.

“Right now, we are optimistic that Camp will open this summer. We are working closely with other camps in Western, MA as well as the ACA, who is working closely with the CDC. There will most likely have to be some changes put into place, such as a later start date than anticipated, or the possibility of some out of camp trips being cancelled.

Ultimately, if the government and Department of Health allow us to, it is our decision on whether to open camp or not, and we will only do so if it safe for the entire Camp Taconic community. One of our biggest challenges right now is trying to figure out if our international staff is going to be able to get here. Many of our counselors and support staff come from other countries, and they are unable to get their visas until further notice, so we are hiring additional domestic staff in the event that our international staff is unable to arrive. There are definitely a lot of uncertainties at the moment, but the feedback we’ve received from our camp community is that kids will need camp more than ever this summer. Even if it’s a little different, or shorter in length, we still want to be able to provide our campers with a safe and amazing summer experience.

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