By Zarah Kavarana
The upcoming school year has brought on the need for much discussion within the Chappaqua community. Board members addressed all concerns during their meeting on August 7 in front of an audience of students, parents, and administrators.
The President’s Report was the first topic at hand.
When the board first approved a meeting schedule for the year, members had left out two days (May 21 and May 28 of 2014) for the last meeting in order to avoid a conflict.
It has now determined that the meeting will take place on May 28.
The board has decided to make a schedule change for the upcoming school year, shifting the start of the meetings from 8:15 p.m to 7:30 p.m. The goal is not only to start early, but to end early as well.
The Supervisor’s Report was next on the agenda.
As of August 1, there are 58 more students than projected joining the Chappaqua school district. The Elementary School will have 39 more, Middle School will have 19 more, and the High School will stay the same.
In relation to the construction space in Greeley’s I Lab, or E Wing,and the surrounding professional development work, the original classroom space has been gutted and the asbestos abatement has been completed. The renovation and redesign of the space will soon begin. The project is expected to be finished in the fall with an outside date being the beginning of January.
There were four days of the professional development during the previous week with a group of teachers, who are self dubbed as the “Innovation Fellows.” With Chris Hazleton from FNI, the architectural educational firm working with the board on the project, they began creating interesting units of study – both long term and short term. Work in the new I lab will be scheduled as soon as it’s finished. The board has requested that all schools in the district put forth plans for the use of present space, which includes furniture and ideas within the next 18 months. The goal is to think of whole schools instead of “boxes called classrooms.”
The Innovation Fellows have helped cover a variety of projects all summer long. Teams have been working on word study and writing, restructuring the algebra courses, and even an instrumental music program. Some projects will continue until the end of summer.
The ELA and Math test scores for grades 3-8 have dropped across the state, including in Chappaqua. This is relative when compared to all other districts. Superintendant Lyn McKay stated that this should not be a point of concern because Chappaqua still remains on top among the districts it benchmarks. The board does not have access to individual reports. Once they are released at the end of August, the needs of each student can be handled appropriately, and trends and patterns can be detected with the potential of realigning programs, if necessary. Members agreed that this year’s exams were very different from those administered in previous years, and therefore should not be compared.
The school calendars have been printed, and can be found at the board of education offices, the Chappaqua Library, and the town hall. The calendars can also be printed online.
Members of the public then had the opportunity to comment on any matters of concern. Many spoke in regard to the potential replacement of Coach DeGregorio of the boy’s lacrosse team.
Richard Weissmann, resident, urged board members not to replace DeGregorio. He noted DeGregoio’s commitment to the Chappaqua community and his leadership as a mentor to students.
Greeley graduate, Joseph Hinderstein, had a similar take on the matter. He spoke of how he has been greatly impacted by DeGregorio through the years, and noted that the decision would effect not just Greeley students, but those of other students within the district as well–regardless of age.
Current Greeley student and this years captain of the Greeley varsity lacrosse team, Noah Weissman, spoke on behalf of the entire team. Among the words used to describe DeGregorio, Weissman used “genuine” and “caring.” He spoke of his encouragement to not only the whole team, but to players of all ages.
Lynn Scott, mother of two Greeley lacrosse players – one who has graduated and one still in high school–made a strong point. She said that by getting rid of DeGregorio, it would send a message that once a coach is brought in, no matter how great he or she may be, there’s a possibility that the coach may be replaced by people within the community.
Finally came approvals. Among the number of recommended actions approved by the board were the following:
- A gift of $2,874.00 given by the Greeley PTA to Horace Greeley High School for the purchase of three Epson PowerLite LCD Projectors.
- A contract in the amount of $219,477.51 with Chappaqua Transportation for summer transportation between July 1, 2013 and August 31, 2013.
- A contract with the Pleasantville Union free School District for tow students who attended Summer School Services at the wage set by the New York State Education Department
- An agreement with the Bedford Central School District for one student to be a part of the SAIL II Program at the most current special education non-resident tuition rate, which will be approved by New York State
- A supplemental agreement with Public Relations Assistant, David Hayes
- A resolution for the District Clerk to notify the Department of State about a Notice of Claim
- A resolution for the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) for the learning commons at Horace Greeley High School. The project consists of a renovation of four classroom and a corridor area into an open learning commons.
- A proposed school lunch budget for the 2013-2014 school year, which has increased by $51,390 since the previous year
- A NYSED fire inspection for all district buildings between September 15 and October 31, 2013 by Facilities Inspection Services, LLC in the amount of $2,750.
- A resolution to authorize the tax levy and confirm tax rolls. The budget for the 2013-2014 school year sum will not exceed $114,828,088 for district purposes and a total of $2,899,729 for library purposes. A presentation regarding this matter was made by John Chow, assistant superintendent, and is available on the board’s web page.
The next school board meeting will take place on August 29, 2013 at 10:30 A.M., and the following meeting will take place on September 25,2013 at 7:30 p.m. All meetings are held at Horace Greeley High School.