Monday, May 16th

GlikWith a foot of snow expected in Scarsdale, the Scarsdale School district has declared a snow day for Thursday December 17.... not a remote learning day, but a full closure of school.

Here's the note from the district:

"Given the significant snow storm set to hit the area tonight, the Scarsdale Public Schools will be closed tomorrow, Thursday, December 17, 2020. Due to the magnitude of the storm predicted and the possibility of power outages and widespread closures we will NOT be providing remote instruction tomorrow.

All afternoon programs and activities are cancelled for today, Wednesday, December 16. 2020. At this time, we plan to reopen buildings on Friday, December 18, 2020."

However, due to so many cases at the middle school, the district has announced that it will move to all remote instruction until after the Christmas holiday. Here's the information: "At this time, Scarsdale Middle School is experiencing significant challenges to maintaining in person learning. Based on the combination of students on quarantine, families electing to keep students home, and the difficulty of safely staffing the building for in-person learning, SCARSDALE MIDDLE SCHOOL WILL SHIFT TO ALL REMOTE INSTRUCTION UNTIL THE DECEMBER BREAK. The Middle School will return to the hybrid learning model effective January 4, 2020.

If the snow does come our way, here's something fun to do on Thursday. The Village of Scarsdale has announced a snowman contest with photos of your entries due by Friday December 18. See below for details. And after you're done, also email your snowman photos to scarsdalecomments@gmail.com for publication on Scarsdale10583.com.

Enjoy!

snowman contest

 

scouts2Sunday December 6 was a perfect (if a bit nippy) day for launching water bottle rockets. Scout Pack 440’s Wolf Den did not let cold weather deter them from sending their bottle rockets high into the clear autumn sky. All it took was some seven year-old muscle and a lot of water.

(Photo credit Midori Im)

scouts1scouts3

HarrisonCourtsTo the Editor: After seven long years the Scarsdale School Board and the Scarsdale Village Board finally passed joint resolutions for an Intermunicipal Agreement related to the plans and construction of a Comfort Station with two rest rooms, an office for a tennis attendant, a storage room for athletic equipment and a room to accommodate existing irrigation equipment.

The plan is to construct a 20 X 20 building with in-house Village forces under the direction of the Dept. of Public Works so the cost should be limited to materials cost and architect fees. The estimated cost of the project is $150,000 which we feel is excessive because of no labor cost or overtime costs.

The resolution was passed by 7 to 0 by the School Board who has no cost in the project only to present the plans to the State Education Dept. (SED) for approval because the structure is being built on School land next to the Middle School Tennis Courts operated by the Village. The Village Board passed the resolution by a 5 to 2 vote with some concern by two trustees over the cost of the project and no financial input by the School Board .However, the decision to build the Comfort Station by the Village with Village forces was decided long ago and a number of recent Village Capital Budgets have included funds for the project. This project has been in the capital budget since at least 2016. This is absolutely a pre pandemic project as stated publicly by Trustee Ross at the Board and should be completed as soon as possible.

The Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League led by Bob Harrison, volunteer director of the summer league for 36 years, has served over 2,000 Scarsdale boys and girls to enjoy the lifetime sport of tennis in the Summer League. In 2014 the League ran a full-page ad in the Inquirer to raise funds as a gift to the Scarsdale Village to help pay for the Comfort Station. We raised over $2,000 that has sat in our non-profit bank account until now. We have publicly announced a gift a $10,000 to the Village to get the Comfort Station built as soon as possible.

We have started a fundraising campaign to raise $8,000 to complete the gift to the Village. Residents and donors can make their checks payable to the "Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League " and mail the check to 65 Fox Meadow Road, Scarsdale, NY 10583 as soon as possible.

We will urge that a plaque with the name of the Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League and any donors who give $ 500 or more to the project along with the names of our Village Board members be placed on the front of the new Comfort Station. This has been common practice in the community with the Butler Field Track, the Scarsdale VAC Building, our new Library and other projects.

Contact Bob Harrison with comments and any additional information at 914 725-0962 by email at proscars@aol.com.

Bob Harrison

Volunteer Director for 36 years
Scarsdale Summer Youth Tennis League

SchoolPlexiglassThis letter was written by Irin Israel:

All Scarsdale K-2 classes have the space to be full-class, full-time at six feet apart instead of the split-class model in which children spend half of the day with a non-teaching aide, as is currently being done. This is possible with cohorts, and while leaving 3-5 in their current hybrid model, yet positioned correctly so that when positivity rates drop, the kids can become full-time without moving a desk. There is more than enough room for K-2 to fit in all 5 schools without using most cafeterias, gyms, and auditoriums.

This choice can be enacted by swapping rooms and moving furniture/tech, while keeping all other aspects of the school day the same. A full-class K-2 model is beneficial educationally, socially, emotionally, and financially, and allows teachers to teach with their aides and to avoid teaching every lesson twice. Additionally, the District is continuing to spend money on months of deep cleaning between K-2’s AM/PM, which is unnecessary if K-2 is full-class and would significantly reduce expenditures. Teaching a full class with both teacher AND aide in the same room, as in the past, has been the optimal pedagogical choice for all our elementary schools. Has that now changed, and will that change going forward?

The District will not commit to examine this at the Dec. 7th Board Meeting, meaning that it won’t be reviewed until January. That will ensure that K-2 classes will have missed out on months of normal classroom instruction which was/is possible with this small change.

How did this happen? At the Nov. 16th BOE Meeting (timecodes 30:44 and 52:35), the District architect admitted that he ONLY used 56 sq ft per individual to calculate and place how many kids fit in every classroom in every school. Even using just 44 sq ft was refuted by David Zweig back in September (NY Magazine article). Children need 28.26 sq ft. Using 56 sq ft is a tremendous overestimate of the space wasted by built-ins/exits and doesn’t take into account that children can be closer to walls. Each room needs to be laid out individually and creatively to get the correct max capacity, but this was not done. The District architect has taken an inaccurate shortcut, leading to an incorrect conclusion that negatively affects our K-2 kids. I created a model (email me or see Facebook) that easily fits all Scarsdale K-2 in school full-time, full-class with teacher and aide, without sacrificing six feet of distancing.

It’s December and we are still using an invalid architectural analysis of our schools from the summer and our K-2 children are paying the price educationally, socially, and emotionally. We’ve also been paying the price in tax dollars by needlessly deep cleaning every elementary school every afternoon.

It is crucial that K-2 parents who want their children in full-classes speak out at the Dec. 7th Board Meeting. If I had a K-2 child, I would write the Board and Administration about this every day until this issue was openly addressed.

Irin Israel
Stratton Road
Scarsdale

LWVSZoomTop left (then moving clockwise): Steven Goodman, DeNora Getachew, Simran Ruta, John Harrison, Claire Scarcella and Martin MintzEvery year, the League of Women Voters of Scarsdale organizes and hosts its Food for Thought event. This year, the event took place on November 12 over zoom and featured a dynamic group of panelists on the cutting edge of civics education. DeNora Getachew moderated the panel. She is the former New York Executive Director of Generation Citizen (GC), a national nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering students with the tools they need to use their voice, advocate, and be active and engaged citizens. GC is an organization dedicated to transforming the way that civics education is taught in schools. Getachew is a dynamic, engaging expert on “demystifying democracy,” so that students feel inspired and find active citizenry to be both accessible and meaningful. Martin Mintz, the current Program Manager of GC, is also a former middle school teacher. Mintz’ work at GC focuses on the connection between education and social justice. In explaining some of GC’s work, he spoke about students at a school in Queens, who were tasked with improving a real-life issue. The students chose to push for cleaner streets, less trash near their school, and did this through research and advocacy with their local elected officials.

The panel also included Scarsdale Middle School teacher, Steven Goodman, who is passionate about infusing civic engagement into the 8th grade curriculum. Goodman talked about how he always starts the year with intensive study of the Constitution; laying the groundwork and the foundation for his students to understand the origins of our government. Goodman discussed how he and the SMS Social Studies’ department collaborate with the Scarsdale League to hold annual mock elections, even during election years wherein the races may be uncontested, or when the races are for local judges and not the president. Both Goodman and Getachew exclaimed that “every election matters,” and it is really important to encourage students to become citizens who are comfortable voting and who understand that it is often the local offices, the local elections that really impact their lives. Goodman also recently worked with the League to facilitate their annual Civics Jeopardy game, this year played over zoom in 7th and 8th grade Social Studies classes around Election Day.

The Social Studies’ Department Chair from Scarsdale High School, John Harrison, also joined the panel with two students, senior Simran Ruta, the Vice President of the Student Government and junior Claire Scarcella, President of her class. Early in the discussion, Scarcella told Goodman that her experience in his 8th grade social studies class inspired her to run for student government in high school.

Ruta and Scarcella spoke of their experiences in the SHS Student Government and the various issues upon which students have been speaking up recently, including Title IX and school reopening; they talked about social media, media literacy and the importance of having honest conversations with their peers. All panelists addressed the complicated issue of increased polarization in political conversation. Mintz said that GC focuses on helping teachers and students work through those conversations. Goodman said that the current national environment of hyperpartisanship makes it challenging to address many issues with students since some are increasingly charged and complex.

Harrison highlighted the long haul of advocacy -- how you can’t expect change after one phone call or one letter. He said that creating change often takes a long time. Both Goodman and Getachew mentioned women’s suffrage -- the 72 plus years of marching, protesting, and organizing that led to the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920.

At the end of the discussion, Getachew posed a lightning round question: “If you had a magic wand, what would you do to make democracy more accessible?” Goodman said that he would want people not to see others who have different political beliefs as enemies, when “you push past politics you see that we have so much in common.” He also spoke of the importance of consensus-building. Harrison would like to see the voting age lowered to 16, getting students actively engaged in voting early. Getachew mentioned that there is a campaign for lowering the voting age in different parts of the U.S.. Scarcella said that we should remember we are all Americans and we should work together. Mintz agreed with Harrison about lowering the voting age and also wants to take away barriers to voting. Mintz thinks that automatic voter registration would help make democracy more accessible. Ruta said she wants to “say goodbye to the Electoral College,” and Getachew agreed and mentioned the National Popular Vote Compact is also a movement in some states in our country.

To watch the video of the event, click here

For biographies on DeNora Getachew, Martin Mintz and more information on Generation Citizen, go to the LWVS Events’ page

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