Between increased support from New York State Foundation Aid and federal funding for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts have decisions to make. Edgemont began seeking community input to guide these decisions at its June 21 school board meeting.
Although no one spoke during public comments, Superintendent Dr. Victoria Kniewel shared an email inquiry (https://bit.ly/3ysipwJ) where stakeholders can weigh in on how additional State Foundation Aid funding for the 2022-23 school year, totaling $985,729 for one-time expenses, should be used.
The use of funds must be subject to the state and must fall into at least one of the following categories: increasing graduation rates, reducing class sizes, supporting at-risk students, supporting social-emotional health, provision of resources for English language learners and special education students, student support goals and ratios, and investment in current initiatives, which Edgemont Deputy Superintendent Bryan Paul, called it a “catch-all” category.
“This is such an important opportunity for the community to weigh in on how best to use these funds,” said school board chair Judy Seiff. “It’s an opportunity for the community to think creatively, to think a little bit more broadly.”
The district also had $383,387 from ARPA funds to spend by July 1, including $77,677 to be spent on “evidence-based interventions to address learning loss,” according to Paul. Among the areas targeted by the district last year for which additional funds were spent were “recovering summer credits for students in need of high school credits, expanding school year for special education and ENL [English as a New Language] students and the addition of a math specialist in the elementary school,” Paul said, noting that part of the grant covered the math specialist’s salary so the district would have one in every elementary school. The additional funds will be used for district-wide HVAC upgrades.
Thank a hero
Vice-Principal of Seely Place Elementary School Julia Huang praised Chief Custodian Aleks Gocaj for his response to the June 9 campus lockdown due to a reported ‘suspicious individual’ in the area and a response fast from the Greenburgh Police Department, who was “on school grounds in what felt like seconds.” As students who were outside when the lockdown was announced re-entered the building, Gocaj searched the area with a broom in hand, Huang said, in an effort to make sure everyone was in. security.
“His actions reflect his character and reputation for putting the needs of others first and going above and beyond the call of duty to keep us safe,” Huang said,
Huang cited the adage “It takes a village,” saying that part of that village is the custodial staff, who not only keep the buildings clean, but also safe, which she called “a herculean task.” , something they do every day.
“You dive with a positive attitude and smile with anything that might be asked of you,” Huang said of Gocaj. “Thank you for preparing our school on a daily basis, for going the extra mile whenever needed, always ready to lend a hand, especially to take care of our students and the school community as a whole. You are a model and you deserve all our praise and support tonight, Aleks.
Renda replaces McCabe
With the retirement of facilities manager John McCabe, the board approved the hiring of Rosario “Ray” Renda, who has spent the past 14 years in a similar role at Port Chester. Renda will earn $182,500 and begin a one-year trial period on July 1. Paul touted Renda’s “experiential knowledge of a number of roles in the facilities and maintenance department” based on his experience with over $91 million in capital construction projects in Port Chester schools, most in conjunction with Edgemont’s architect of choice, Fuller & D’Angelo. Renda also managed a staff about twice as large as Edgemont’s.
With many capital improvements underway and underway for Edgemont, Paul said, “We believe Ray best positions us for the level of success we desire. Your hiring brings me great ease in a period filled with many transitions here. We are happy and excited to welcome you to our community and look forward to a fruitful partnership.
Tuesday was the last meeting of school board president Seiff, board member Alec Clarke and outgoing superintendent Kniewel. School board members introduced Kniewel, an avid reader, to various books to get her started in the new chapter of her life. Students Bella Scovotti and Avantika Singh presented Kniewel with art and a poem as part of his farewell, and the PTSA presented a gift certificate for a local ski shop.
School board vice president Monica Sganga gave a lengthy speech honoring Kniewel, saying she could have walked in with an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude. but instead Kniewel has worked to “progress and improve both physically with the facilities and systematically with the delivery of education, which has historically been very decentralized here at Edgemont, which has become painfully clear during the pandemic. Change is hard. School districts move slowly, and some people like the way things are and resist. But you went through, not like a bulldozer, but like a shepherd tending the flock and trying to convince them that the greenest pasture is just above the ridge,” Sganga said.
She continued, “My oldest graduated 10 years ago this week. Since then, I have seen how the expectations of parents and students have changed. Working with my fellow board members who have younger children, it is abundantly clear that we cannot provide the same education in the same way to students today as we did years ago. in 10 years. The decisions you made, the direction you took us didn’t make you popular with everyone. Change never is.
“But thank you for being more concerned with your vision and less with your popularity. It’s been 10 years since my son graduated and he’s had a great education. I believe the one we deliver today is still I have always been impressed with your reading selections. You are indeed a lifelong learner who enjoys expanding your mind with a passion for your craft.”