At the October 12 meeting of The Scarsdale Board of Education Superintendant Michael McGill gave an update on the progress of the district’s transition from AP to AT courses and also commented on the school’s response to the Labor Day incident.
The District is now in the third year of the transition from the Advanced Placement courses to the Advanced Topics courses. McGill was pleased to report that the AP test scores last May were consistent with prior years, indicating that the AT courses have not caused a decline in AP test scores, as some had feared. In addition, both students and teachers report a high level of engagement with the new curriculum.
McGill then turned to the Labor Day incident which he said had generated a substantial amount of interest inside and outside the community. He reported that school officials only heard about the fight through the grapevine, two weeks after it occurred, but were bound by the Code of Conduct to investigate. Despite their efforts, they were unable to determine who was involved or what had happened.
The District spoke with their lawyers and determined that they could not act arbitrarily and impose blanket penalties on large groups when they did not know who was at fault. However, Principal Klemme did meet with the sports teams to let them know that if further incidents occurred involving individuals on a team, group consequences could be invoked. Klemme asked the students not to back the school into a position where everyone would have to suffer for the actions of a few.
In order to address the issue, Principal Klemme has scheduled meetings with parents, students and faculty to discuss morals and ethics and determine how to engage the entire school community in thoughtful and reflective discussions on the issue.
McGill then gave his own point of view, saying that the incident raised important ethical issues about the school’s role in the community. He feels that most parents do value character and decency and don’t want bad conduct to be ignored. Parents want students to know that misdeeds will have meaningful consequences yet these consequences need to be reasonable, in proportion to the offense and not have life-changing ramifications.
In closing, he said that our common goal should be to do better. On behalf of the school board, Board President Jill Spieler thanked McGill for the administration’s sensitivity to the issue and asked the community to be patient while the school works through the issue.
Next up was an informative five-minute video of a Singapore Math Lesson in a first grade classroom. For those who are not familiar with Singapore Math, the video demonstrated how children using manipulatives to work through math problems. It looked like they were learning and having fun.
Dr. Robert DiYanni, the district’s Director of Art and Aesthetic Education gave an annual update on our art program. The Lincoln Center Program has grown and this year, 90 faculty and 2800 students will see visiting artists and participate in Lincoln Center Programs. Also discussed, were a mime theatre piece, a program called Louder than Words that involves communication through gestures, and an experimental dance work. The Board discussed the concept of living with ambiguity and how this idea could be explored at all levels – elementary through high school.
Gifts in the following amounts were accepted by the Board:
- $450 from the High School PTA to cover specialists to work with school psychologists
- $367.25 from Maroon and White for trophies
- $3,500 from Maroon and White to cover costs of lights on Raider Pride Weekend
- $500 from the PT Council for Raider Pride weekend
- $7,500 from the Scarsdale Football Board for lighting for sports events