Hello Hartsdale Neighbors,
First, a quick reminder that this Tuesday, May 15th is the School District Budget vote and Board of Education election. Voting hours are 7am-9pm and you can vote at the Woodlands High School gymnasium. The 2018 budget has a 3% increase in the tax levy from last year and more details can be found here. There are also 3 seats open for the Board of Education. We encouraged all residents to come out and vote on Tuesday.
So, we have heard some feedback from some of you who are interested in coming to our meetings but can’t always make it and would like to get some more details about what they missed. Our most recent meeting was this past Tuesday and the focus was the Greenburgh School District and the upcoming budget vote this Tuesday. At the meeting we were lucky enough to have several guests including Superintendent Dr. Tahira Chase and Assistant Superintendent Mary O’Neil. We were also joined by two of the nominees for School Board, Antoinette Darden- Cintron and Terry Williams. The one thing our guests all had in common was a clear passion for the work they were doing, and we thank them for joining us.
I’ll do my best to recap the focus of our discussion with Dr. Chase below. There was also a Scarsdale Inquirer article from this past Friday that did a good job recapping as well.
- Dr. Chase first went over the budget proposal (link) and some of its details. Overall there is a 3% increase in the total tax levy from last year. There are no cuts to programming or curriculum and there were several retirements which Dr. Chase noted in helping reduce the overall increase. The link above has a full breakdown of the budget proposal by the school and I encourage those interested to check it out.
- We talked about some of the recent new programming that is offered including
- The mandarin program, which is being expanded.
- The Advanced Learning Program(ALP) for students 1-6. ALP is an academic program for high achievers who can benefit from a more rigorous curriculum
- The school Districts plan to begin offering International Baccalaureate diploma’s in the coming years (goal is 2019).
- One of the most interesting topics was the conversation regarding the school districts plans for a potential bond to upgrade school buildings, and potentially consolidate schools at the Woodlands Campus. Dr. Chase indicated that a potential proposal is being worked on and could be presented to the public as early as this year. This would potentially allow the district to both fix some of the long-known problems with aging infrastructure and move away from the Princeton plan (grouping elementary schools by grade rather than neighborhood) which Dr. Chase herself said was not ideal and results in changing schools too often.
- Considering recent events both locally and nationally a decent part of the evening also focused on school security. Dr. Chase and Mrs. O’Neil went over some of the systems in place that are used to help monitor the buildings and students. They noted they had increased hiring in recent years for that and that training on security is done constantly throughout the year.
- The conversation did not avoid some of the hard topics as well.
- We asked Dr. Chase about GCSD being #1 in terms of percentage of eligible students who choose to forgo GCSD for other schools. Dr. Chase was blunt and said that part of her job was to fix the undeserved reputation that GCSD has, especially with local realtors. She noted that enrollment is up, and that with the district improvements, she hopes more students will choose to attend.
- We also noted that the reputation of GCSD partly has to do with test scores that are below state averages and other local districts on NY state exams. This is notable especially in light of the fact that GCSD is already #1 in per pupil spending in Westchester County. Dr. Chase noted a growing opt out movement but also reiterated the district is working to improve its performance. Frankly, there is more work here to be done as the reputation of GCSD will not change until we are more competitive with neighboring areas in our performance.
If you have any questions about the meeting or would like to get in touch with us about any of our initiatives or an idea you have please send us an email! We can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send us a message on Facebook. Check out our web page www.hartsdalenighbors.org We’ll be sending out another email regarding our next meeting which is currently TBD.
Hartsdale Neighbors Association