Rye City School District ▪ 411 Theodore Fremd Ave Suite 100S, Rye, NY 10580 ▪ (914) 967-6100 

 Board Notes  


2013-2014 Board of Edu
Laura Slack, President ▪ Katy Keohane Glassberg, VP  
Karen Belanger ▪ Edward M. Fox ▪ Nancy Pasquale ▪ Chris Repetto ▪ Nicole Weber

A Summary of the 1/14/14 Rye City School District Board of Education Meeting


Superintendent's Report

Dr. Alvarez provided a report to the Board and to the community, discussing several initiatives taking place within the District. He explained that the District has been observing and analyzing the effectiveness of its Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR) Plan, which was implemented over the past year. The APPR Committee will reconvene to explore ways the Plan can be reshaped moving forward. The District is also reviewing its character education program, with the assistance of Rye Middle School Social Worker Mr. Peter Green. Dr. Alvarez additionally mentioned that Wincap (a finance management program) and Aesop (an employee attendance system) are fully operational. He thanked Assistant Superintendent for Business Gabriella O'Connor and Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Elaine Cuglietto for the time and effort they dedicated to this transition.  


Dr. Alvarez also shared excellent news from the Athletics Department, announcing that all nine fall varsity teams earned the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Scholar Athlete Team Award. This honor requires a number of athletes from each team to earn a 90% or higher average for the first marking period.  

Recognition of Excellence Awards 

The first meeting of 2014 began with several rounds of applause! Superintendent of Schools Dr. Alvarez presented Rye Recognition of Excellence Awards to students throughout the District who have earned prestigious musical achievements. A total of fourteen students ranging from elementary to high school levels were selected to participate in Area All-State and All-County Music Festival ensembles, presented by the Westchester County School Music Association (WCSMA), a unit of NYSSMA and the National Association for Music Educators. Dr. Alvarez explained that these students spent a great deal of time practicing and working with their instructors as they prepared for their auditions and subsequent festival concerts.  


Yuika Abe, James Ham, and Daniel Keller participated in Chorus Area All-State; Jici Wang participated in Band Area All- State; and Nabil Azim, Will Hammer, and Su Lynn Kok participated in Orchestra Area All-State. Anders Jensen, Miteki Ochi, and Esther Yu are part of the Area All-County Intermediate Orchestra; and Keaton Mueller and Alex Mayo-Smith are members of the Area All-County Intermediate Band. Additionally, two elementary school students - Milton fifth grader Elizabeth Fink and Osborn fourth grader Sean Yu - were selected to perform in the Area All-County Elementary Orchestra.


Dr. Alvarez presented each student with a congratulatory certificate in honor of these well-deserved accomplishments. He also acknowledged their dedicated and supportive teachers: Mr. Sean Amdur, Mr. Todd Beaney, Mr. Dan Brown, Ms. Yun Shim Kim, and Ms. Lynn Kraut. 

Gifts to the District 

The Board accepted a gift in the amount of $10,000 from the Reno Family Charitable Foundation for Project Lead the Way equipment at Rye High School. Project Lead the Way, which will be launched at the start of the 2014-15 school year, is an initiative designed to expand the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) component of the high school experience, offering students an introduction to the field of engineering through the Pathway to Engineering program. The Board also accepted a gift of $5,296 from the Midland School PTO for iPad speakers, SMARTBoard tools, new gymnastics equipment and laptop carts. Board of Education President Laura Slack thanked the generous parents and residents who have supported the District through these gifts.  

Oil Service at RHS 
The Board approved a budget transfer of $20,000 to purchase additional fuel oil for Rye High School and field house. Assistant Superintendent for Business Mrs. O'Connor explained that the building utilizes gas service, which can be interrupted on high demand days. On particularly cold weather days, the District is asked by Con Edison to switch from gas to oil temporarily. The oil supply is necessary in order to enable this system of keeping the building heated.
Remarks from Senator Latimer 
In a surprise visit, New York State Senator George Latimer addressed members of the Board, Administration, and public during the public comment portion of the meeting. He discussed several topics that are of particular concern to school districts, including the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS), State testing, teacher evaluations, the tax cap, and other rising costs. Senator Latimer explained that he is participating on a newly-formed Senate Education Committee, which has focused a great deal of attention on concerns surrounding the CCLS as well as mandated tests.

The Board expressed specific concerns regarding the escalating costs associated with the Teachers' Retirement System (TRS) rate, which has risen 37% in the current school year alone. Senator Latimer agreed with points raised about the need for mandate relief in a tax cap environment. He shared that he has filed legislation that would better balance tax cap revenues and cap-mandated expenses. "Any jurisdiction that is required to honor the tax cap of 2% as a cap on what they can raise must also have a cap of 2% on how much additional obligation they must pay for the pension," he explained. The District's increasing enrollment without exemptions was also discussed. 

Members of the Board spoke with the Senator about CCLS and new tests, and whether these developments are accomplishing what they were intended to. They stressed the short time frame in which the CCLS, new State tests, and evaluation of teachers based on test scores were implemented and the impact this has on both teachers and students. All of these initiatives were rolled out within one year. "The single biggest problem that I view is that the State Education Department is looking at every single district as if they are the same," Senator Latimer stated.  

Senator Latimer informed members of the Board, Administration, and audience that information on the State budget is being released this week, and explained that he and Assemblyman Steven Otis will be determining the impact of these numbers and lobbying for school districts' needs.

Board of Education President Laura Slack thanked Senator Latimer for coming out and speaking at the meeting, and for his continued advocacy and responsiveness to the school districts in his region.
AP Art History 
Rye High School's AP Art History Teacher, Sara Charles, presented an overview of the course. She described the curriculum and the positive impact it has on students, explaining that the course covers art from various regions of the world and points in history, and is supported by field trips that allow students to experience the art first-hand. This full-year Social Studies elective is offered to 11th and 12th graders and may provide college-level credit. It also provides unique opportunities for students who wish to pursue future careers in the field, as Mrs. Charles noted that Rye High School currently has six students interning at the Frick. 
Fiscal Constraints and Challenges 
Ms. O'Connor presented a report on Fiscal Constraints and Challenges for the 2014-15 school year. She discussed budget drivers, which include the tax cap, retirement system contributions, enrollment growth, collective bargaining unit provisions, health insurance premiums, continued testing and reporting requirements, progressing technology, facility needs and concerns, State aid and other non-tax revenues, and diminishing fund balance.

Mrs. O'Connor described the eight-step formula behind the tax cap calculation, and explained that it can actually be lower than 2%. The Rye City School District anticipates that its tax cap for the 2014-15 school year will be below 1.5%. The costs of unfunded mandates continue to grow significantly, with TRS and healthcare expenditures projected to increase 10% and 6%, respectively. While the Employees' Retirement System (ERS) expenditures will slightly decrease, the dollar amount is still high and will negatively impact the budget. No school districts in New York State qualify for TRS or ERS cost exemptions in the 2014-15 school year. Additionally, the District has seen an enrollment growth of 18.6% since 2004-05, with no cost exemptions or consideration in calculating the tax cap despite the fact that increased enrollment necessitates adequate staffing, supplies, and space.

The 2014-15 Superintendent's Proposed Budget to the Board of Education will be presented at the February 25 Board of Education meeting.
Construction Update
Triton Construction Project Executive Kevin Sawyer led a presentation summarizing the MS/HS Construction Project. He explained that the project is going very well, and that students and staff will be working in brand new, updated science classrooms next year. A great deal of progress has already been made; the locker rooms were finished in November and work related to the new science wing is ongoing. Concrete pouring for footings has been completed, as has water proofing and backfilling. Underground and crawl space piping, underground water management structures, and structural steel framing were installed over the past few months. 

In the coming weeks, decking for the second floor and roof will be installed to prepare for concrete placement on these levels. The building will be enclosed to allow for temporary heating while work continues through the winter. Completion of the new wing is anticipated prior to September 2014, with new classrooms ready for use on the first day of school! For a full overview of the construction work, including a photo gallery, please visit the Construction Update section of the District's website.

Next Regular Meeting
January 28, 2014
8:00 pm 
Rye Middle School    Multipurpose Room

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