Week of 5/30 District FAQ's
1. When reviewing the 2023-24 budget documents, I see reference to “Social Emotional Learning Programs". What exactly is Social Emotional Learning?
Social and emotional learning (SEL) involves the processes through which children and adults learn and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The NYS Education Department has established five key components of Social-Emotional Learning: Self-Awareness (understanding one’s emotions, personal goals, and values); Self-Management (skills and attitudes that facilitate the ability to regulate emotions and behaviors); Social Awareness (the ability to take the perspective of and have respect for those with different backgrounds or cultures, and to empathize and feel compassion; Relationship Skills (communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking help when needed); and Responsible Decision-Making (the ability to consider ethical standards, safety concerns, and make accurate behavioral assessments to make realistic evaluations of the consequences of various actions, and to take the health and well-being of self and others into consideration). Programs that provide explicit instruction in each of these areas are integral to an effective Multi-Tiered System of Supports in that they help to remove barriers to teaching and learning in reading, writing, mathematics, science and scientific inquiry, social studies, and the arts. For additional information, please see the Social Emotional Learning Benchmarks from the NYS Education Department.
Week of 4/24 District FAQs
1. With Dr. Drake leaving the District at the end of the year, will parents and the community be involved in the search process for the next elementary principal?
Yes. This week we are reviewing our timelines and steps involved in the search process. We will then share and review these documents with the Springhurst staff. Following this, we will post these documents to our website so that parents and the community are aware of our next steps, including the establishment of committees. We will continue to update the dedicated website page so that everyone is aware of our progress.
2. How can I find out more about the candidates who are running for the Board of Education?
As has been done in past years, the League of Women Voters and the Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA) will be hosting a virtual Meet the Candidates Night forum. The Forum is scheduled for Sunday, May 7, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. and can be viewed live by pre-registration. To register for the Forum, go to https://bit.ly/DobbsFerry SB. There will be no audience participation. Questions should be submitted before 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, either at registration or by email to email@example.com. Questions will be vetted by a committee of PTSA and League members who will submit them to the moderator of the Forum.
Candidates include Rebecca Hershberg, Pavithra Nagarajan, and Antonio Treglia. These three candidates are vying for two open seats. The event will be recorded and made available on the LWV Rivertowns YouTube page, the school district website, and other media locations.
Week of 4/17 District FAQs
1. At their April 11th meeting, I see that the School Board approved the proposed budget. What will this mean for my tax bill?
The Board approved the proposed budget expenditure plan of $55,205,235 which carries an estimated tax rate of $21.15. This is a decrease from the current year tax rate of $21.68. As each tax bill depends on the assessed value of your home (as determined by the Town of Greenburgh assessor), it is difficult for the District to say how this will impact tax bills in general as some assessments have changed due to renovations/improvements while others have remained largely unchanged. That said, if you know the assessed value of your home, you would divide that number by 1000 and multiply the result by 21.15 for an estimate of your tax bill. For example, a home that is assessed at $950,000 would multiply 950 by $21.15 and get a result of $20,092. This is your estimated school tax bill for the 2023-24 school year. Additional information on the budget and the proposed investments can be found on the District Budget Information page of our website.
2. I am frustrated that I have not received a response to my email from administration. What should I do now?
The use of email in school districts has increased substantially over the years and there are times when we struggle to keep up while also managing the day to day operations of our schools and districts. With that in mind, our goal is to initially respond within 24 hours, but if you do not receive a response with 48 hours, please resend your email to the administrator to bring it to the top of their inbox. As a reminder, we shared the following information and protocols in previous Updates:
- September 30: Questions and Concerns As I noted in my Back-to-School Video, I am asking that when you have a question or concern, please address it to the individual closest to the work (e.g., supervisor, principal, etc.) as we detail in the Board’s Policy on Public Complaints. As noted in the policy, if at that point you are not satisfied with the answer, by all means please continue along the chain of command until you have a satisfactory answer with the understanding that a) you can expect to receive at least an initial response within 24 hours and b) the further you move away from the immediate supervisor of the work, the longer it may take to get a response. I ask this because over the past few years we have seen a significant increase in the misinformation and disinformation that is shared via social media that could have been avoided if the initial questions were posed to school staff and an opportunity to respond was given. I am asking and hoping that all of us take the direct communication route instead of the indirect route via social media so that we are not further distracted away from our focus on teaching and learning.
- February 9: Who Do I Contact When . . . ? I have spoken to a number of parents who aren’t sure who they should contact when they and/or their child has a question, concern, or complaint. The answer is often "It depends." As a general rule and as detailed in District policy, we ask that you address the concern with the staff member closest to the original source. For example, for classroom issues, this means starting with the teacher. For athletic team issues, that means starting with the coach. In each instance, there is a chain of command that we ask you to follow as this is the best approach to addressing concerns in a timely fashion. For instances of alleged bullying and harassment, please contact the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA) Coordinator for the school building where your child is a student. If you are unsure whether a DASA complaint is warranted for a particular situation, please contact your child's principal or assistant principal for assistance. Students can also report concerns to a trusted adult at their school. In any situation of concern, we ask that you please report the information to us so that we can address it and help our students stay focused on their learning.
3. Are there any candidates running for the two seats on the Board of Education?
Yes, we have three candidates who will be on the ballot for the May 16th School District Budget Vote/School Board Election. Rebecca Hershberg, Pavithra Nagarajan, and Antonio Treglia.
Week of 4/10 District FAQs
1. Would the District consider placing more crossing guards on the busier side streets where drivers don't seem to stop or barely slow down for the stop signs?
Following the traffic rules around our schools is absolutely critical to the safety and well-being of our students. Whether it be fully stopping at stop signs, not passing school buses with their red lights on, adhering to the traffic control signs on our school campuses and/or following the directions of the crossing guards, we all need to be sure that we pay close attention to our many student walkers and bicycle riders. While the crossing guards are employed by the Village Police Department, we work closely with them when we experience challenges to student safety.
2. Is the District planning any changes to the traffic pattern at the Middle School/ High School campus? During morning drop-off and afternoon pick-up there are "near misses" of drivers hitting one another or not seeing students using the crosswalks.
The District continues to look for ways to better ensure the safety of our students during these two busy times, but we have to keep in mind that the design of these areas did not consider the increase in vehicular traffic that we have seen over the years. As a result, drivers are waiting in longer lines and anxiously trying to exit our campuses. Members of our staff and security team are outside every day at those times to protect our students. They continually remind drivers to slow down, to drop their children off in nearby areas so as to lessen the traffic on our campuses and to consider leaving home a bit earlier to avoid having to rush. Following these suggestions will help with the safety concerns that we all share.
3. I read an article online in The Journal News (4.10.23) entitled "Lower Hudson Valley Students are acting out. Educators have some theories why." Is our District experiencing some of these same behaviors and if so, how are we handling it?
Changes in student behavior continue to be experienced by most schools in the region and Dobbs Ferry is amongst them. While we take great pride in our students and how they generally represent themselves when in school, on sports or field trips, and/or in the village during lunch time, poor choices are still sometimes made. Student supports (e.g., counseling), discussions with families and disciplinary actions up to and including those involving the Dobbs Ferry PD are sometimes necessary. At the same time, we are providing additional training to our faculty and staff on managing the changes in student behavior and are proposing additional staff to assist with this work in the 2023-24 school year.
Week of 4/3 District FAQs
1. I read that there are two seats open on the Board of Education. How do I find out more information about the requirements, the process, and if the incumbents are running again?
Two terms of office of the Dobbs Ferry Board of Education will be expiring on June 30, 2023 which means that two seats, each for a three (3)-year term from July 1, 2023-June 30, 2026, are open. At the March 21, 2023 Board meeting, both incumbents, Ms. Tracy Baron and Mr. Massimo Bufalini, announced that they would not be seeking reelection. Forms for petitions to run for a seat on the Board of Education are available in the District Office. Petitions must be submitted by the close of business on Monday, April 17, 2023. Twenty-five (25) signatures of qualified voters in the district are required. For additional information, please see Running for the School Board from the NYS School Boards Association and the Prospective Board Member Workshop from the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. Interested individuals may also contact current members of the Board and are encouraged to attend the next Board of Education meeting on April 11, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. in the Middle/High School library.
2. In the recent ThoughtExchange survey, I noticed that a number of people gave a high rating to concerns with vaping and disciplinary actions. What is the District doing to address these concerns?
As we have seen across the region, state, and country, vaping is a serious health and safety concern within schools and communities. While District policies 1530 and 5300 prohibit possessing, using, selling, or distributing vaping devices and/or substances, we have nonetheless had numerous instances this year where students have chosen to engage in these prohibited behaviors. When these choices are made, students are subject to the disciplinary procedures that are detailed in Section VIII of the Code of Conduct. These have typically included the maximum out-of-school suspension by principals with the possibility of a longer suspension through a superintendent disciplinary hearing. Students making these choices may also be referred to or, in some cases, required to participate in counseling or other student support services. The objective of these services is to work with students and their families to enhance students' awareness of the dangers of vaping, build their ability to resist peer pressure, and equip them with necessary resistance and social competency skills. In addition, various awareness programs have been provided by and/or hosted by the middle and high schools this year in an effort to build students’ knowledge of the dangers of vaping and strengthen their refusal skills. Finally, to reduce the opportunities for vaping, the middle and high schools have had to close certain bathrooms and increase the adult supervision in those that remain open.
Week of 3/27 District FAQs
1. Where can I learn more about the District’s budget development process?
Information on the 2023-2024 budget development process can be found on the District Budget webpage. Anyone with specific budget questions should contact Dr. Ron Clamser, Assistant Superintendent for Finance, Facilities, and Operations at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Mr. Ken Slentz, the Superintendent at email@example.com.
2. What happened to the District’s work on diversity, equity, and inclusion? I don’t hear much about it anymore.
Last year the Board of Education adopted the District DEI Policy and administration developed the DEI Plan. This year, we are implementing the plan across each building and within each area of District operations. At the March 21 Board of Education meeting, Dr. Stinchcomb and Ms. Yang-Kaczmarek provided the Board with an update on this work, training that is occurring, and their anticipated next steps in plan implementation.
3. With the ongoing concerns of our students' wellness, does the District still have an active Wellness Committee and if so, how can I get involved?
The Board of Education members on the Wellness Committee met in the first part of the year to determine the structure and function of the larger committee. Administration anticipates bringing together the districtwide committee to begin the work outlined by Board members. Individuals from the community who wish to be a part of this committee should contact Mr. Slentz at firstname.lastname@example.org
4. I recently completed a ThoughtExchange survey on what I would like to hear more about from the District in a community forum similar to the one held on February 1st. Will the District be hosting another forum?
The District is planning to host a second forum this spring. The Board of Education's School and Community Relations Committee met to review the survey results to determine what topics were most common and should be the focus of the next forum. Stay tuned for the date, time, and location of our spring forum.