City School District of New Rochelle

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BOE Adopts 2019-20 Budget; Vote Scheduled for May 21
The New Rochelle Board of Education this week unanimously adopted a proposed $281,067,000 budget for the 2019-20 school year that adds more than 20 positions, improves resources in areas such as special education and building maintenance, addresses priorities expressed by administrators and the community, such as supports in social-emotional health, and stays within the state-mandated property tax cap.

The Board's vote came Tuesday in the Linda E. Kelly Theater of New Rochelle High School. The budget season so far has included three budget review sessions, a January Town Hall session on administrators' funding requests and a café-style session that offered educators and community members the opportunity to discuss their priorities.

A hearing will be held 7 p.m. May 7 in the NRHS library. Residents will vote on the plan May 21.

"Involvement from New Rochelle residents, school administrators and teachers helped the District formulate a spending plan that reflects the priorities of the community and our educators," said Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie. "It allowed us to create a budget that will continue to offer a high quality education to all of our students while remaining mindful of the taxpayers," he added.

The budget includes special education teachers, English as a new language instructors, academic intervention specialists, a literacy coach and Spanish teachers. Clinicians - a social worker and a counselor - would be added at the middle school level.

The budget also calls for an Assistant Director - Instructional Technology to evaluate the current instructional technology program and to foster a consistent and innovative approach to the use of technology in teaching, learning and exploration across the District.

The plan proposes a spending increase of $10.7 million, or 3.95% over this year's $270,381,160 budget. It is supported partly by increases of $4 million in state aid and $2 million in other non-tax revenue.

The plan includes a $200,000 reduction in contractual expenses and $325,000 from the savings of salaries and benefits associated with the elimination of the project manager and Director of Transportation positions. Transportation staff will report directly to the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration.

The tax levy - the dollar amount to be raised by property taxes - would be $213,591,114. That is an increase of $4,588,952, or 2.2% from the current tax levy of $209,002,162, staying within the increase permitted by the property tax cap.

Read more about the budget on the District homepage,
Board of Education Meeting Notes
The following are highlights of the Board of Education meeting held Tuesday, April 23, in the Linda E. Kelly Theater of New Rochelle High School.

Alternative Campus Fosters Success: The Alternative Campus High School provides a program where students who did not find New Rochelle High School's main campus to be ideal thrive, Director Joel Fridovich told the Board in a presentation. The Campus program is "a tool for the District to help build equity, fairness and success for students," he said. Fridovich said the program is known for the hundreds of alumni who visit and keep in touch, including teachers, chefs, social workers, successful business people and members of the military.

Four students also told the Board how the program has helped them.

"Campus has provided me and other students with a sense of comfort that I needed to thrive," said senior Aaliyah Miller. "I've been able to reconnect with my potential, have been consistently on the Honor Roll and have been accepted to SUNY Purchase for September, where I plan to pursue a biology major as a first step toward a goal of becoming a pediatrician."

Junior Andrea Alaya talked of the activities she has taken part in while at Campus, including Power of Peace and Coalition for Mutual Respect.

"All of these activities helped me get out of my comfort zone, helped me grow and made me feel good about myself," she said.

Fridovich will retire at the end of the school year after 27 years in as the head of the Alternative Campus.

"Mr. Fridovich is going to be sorely missed in this District," Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie said. "He has touched countless lives and built strong, trusting relationships in his years as the director of the Alternative Campus. We thank him for his service to the students and to the New Rochelle community."

Residency Verification: The residency verification program has successfully affirmed the residency of 4,559 students, or 97.51%, in both middle schools, Davis, Ward and Trinity elementary schools and the freshman class of New Rochelle High School, residency verification manager Dr. Charles Coletti reported. This week, the residency verification team finished the major portion of the program at Columbus Elementary School. Residency was verified for 95% of the students there, a number that is certain to increase with follow-up efforts. Now the team moves on to the Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center and the Jefferson and Daniel Webster elementary schools before returning to NRHS for the sophomores and juniors. Coletti expects to make a final report to the Board in July.
Coffin Joe (William Winston, right) is grilled by the press in "Get Me Mitsy Morte!".
ALMS Students to Perform Original Play
What's Coffin Joe, the District Grim Reaper, to do when he runs for president and skeletons in his closet begin to emerge, such as his unfair treatment of vampires?

Joe, played by sixth-grader William Winston in the new Theater in a Trunk play at Albert Leonard Middle School, knows there's only one way out.

"Get me Mitsy Morte!" he orders his chief of staff. That line is also the name of the show, an original production. Barbara Clark, an ALMS teaching assistant, directs the theater group, which she has run for several years.

The students will perform the show next Friday, May 3, at 4 p.m. in the junior auditorium at the school, 25 Gerada Lane. Tickets are $5.

The scripts are not only original, they are tailored to the cast members. The shows are written by Clark's son, Bob Clark, an artist and writer (and an ALMS alumnus).

"Mrs. Clark tells him about our personalities and he just builds it into the character to give them a more believable attitude," said Madeline Weiss, a sixth-grader, who plays the title role.

When the author learned that look-alike twins Owen and Charlie Benedict are in the show (they're not technically identical twins, but just try to tell them apart), he gave the character Ari Westphal a doppelganger, who appears in a surreal realm called the Red Room.

"Get Me Mitsy Morte" blends the supernatural and the surreal with witty satire, featuring characters with names like Frank Stein and Donny Nosferatu.

"It's normal life, with politics and stuff like monsters and zombies and vampires," said Owen Benedict.

"It's basically about political problems," his brother Charlie summed up.

"I like that it's definitely new," said Mia Lee, a member of the Backstage Pass crew of artists who created props for the show. "It's a plot no one's ever really touched upon."

Will Mitsy Morte prevail? Will she help Coffin Joe overcome his image problems to win the presidency?

That will be seen next Friday, when the curtain parts.
Sports Schedule
For upcoming New Rochelle athletic competitions, check out*

* This link connects to an outside website
Dates to Remember
Tuesday, April 30-Wednesday, May 1: PAVE II, III, IV Vocal, Linda E. Kelly Theater, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 1: Our Children, Our Artists - Elementary, New Rochelle Public Library, 4 p.m.

Thursday, May 2: Springfest Instrumental, Whitney E. Young Auditorium, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 2: SEPTA We Are One Awards Dinner, VIP Club, 600 Davenport Ave., New Rochelle

Friday, May 3: School Spirit Day, Davis

Friday, May 3: International Dinner, Webster, 6 p.m.

Friday, May 3: Senior Acting Company, Linda E. Kelly Theater, NRHS, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 3: Daddy-Daughter Dance, Davis, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Friday, May 3: PTA Meeting, IEYMS, 7 p.m.
ALMS Students Hear Unsparing Stories of
World War II, 
Veteran Alan Moskin speaks to the students.
Albert Leonard Middle School students took a hard look at World War II and the Holocaust this week from people who lived through it.

They met with a survivor of the humanitarian crisis of the 1930s and 1940s, and they heard the unsparing account of the war and concentration camp conditions from veteran Alan Moskin, who helped liberate a camp in 1945.

"You are the last generation that's going to hear from people like me," Moskin, 92, told the students.  His visit was organized through the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC).

Moskin spoke of the buddies he'd seen killed and of the miserable conditions in the camp he liberated. He told of a camp inmate who hugged him upon being freed, his head and nape covered with sores and lice. Moskin's talk was blunt, and he made it clear from the start he would brook no disrespect.

"This is a heavy subject," he said. "No slouching. No fooling around. If you're not interested, get up and leave now."

No one left. The students sat rapt.

"He was brutally honest," student Awani Mastafa said afterward. "I didn't expect that, but I appreciate it."

Today, sixth-grade students met Holoca ust survivor Mark Schonwetter and his daughter Ann Arnold, author of Together, A Journey for Survival, a recounting of the Schonwetter family's harrowing experience on the run from the Nazis in Poland while the war raged around them.

When Principal John Barnes asked the father and daughter about people who leave swastikas and other symbols of hate as graffiti, they said they believe the people who draw, paint or scratch the signs into surfaces do not understand the meaning of the symbols and that if they did, they would not commit the vandalism.

As further study of the era, eighth-grade students visited "The Courage to Remember" poster exhibition on display in the library. Created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the posters "offer compelling new insight into the Holocaust," according to the HHREC, which loaned them to ALMS.

Moskin said he gave his talk to be sure the students did understand. He said he could not talk about the war for 50 years after his service. When he finally did speak publicly, it was cathartic. He continues to speak about the horrors and atrocities, in part on behalf of the friends he lost.

"They can't speak, but I can and I will," he said. "I bear witness, do you understand? I want you young people to bear witness for me. That's why I'm here. I want each one of you to be my messenger for future generations. ... You young people must absolutely make sure it never happens again."
Workshop on Hate Speech
Set for May 15
Leaders of the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) will offer a workshop for parents and guardians on May 15 entitled Free Speech vs. Hate Speech: When Does it Become Hate Speech?

The session will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in Room 207 of New Rochelle High School, 265 Clove Road. It will be led by Steve Goldberg and Julie Scallero, co-directors of education for the HHREC.

The City School District of New Rochelle has partnered with the HHREC to teach students about hate speech and symbols of intolerance. With this workshop, the District invites parents and guardians to learn more about this important topic in order to help foster a welcoming atmosphere for all in the New Rochelle schools and community.
Jefferson Students Participate in Readathon
National Poetry Month has been packed full of engaging and exciting reading-related activities in New Rochelle. On Saturday, April 13, the Jefferson Elementary School PTA and New Rochelle Public Library collaborated to present Readathon 2019, part of Jefferson's month-long Full S.T.E.A.M Reading Ahead program. The event included bi-lingual book readings, a craft project and plenty more for budding book lovers!  
This year's Full S.T.E.A.M Reading Ahead program kicked off on April 1 with a pep rally that included an appearance by Jeffrey the Tiger and The Bookfairy, also known as Vicky Condello-Vessecchia, a third grade teacher at Jefferson and event co-chair.

"We're all about nurturing a love of reading and books, and helping students build their home libraries," said Condello-Vessecchia. "Every Jefferson student left the pep rally with a free book and National Geographic Magazine courtesy of the Jefferson PTA, and we carried that excitement right through to our event at the library."

Jefferson families were welcomed to the New Rochelle Public Library by staff members Bob Simic, head of children's services, Susan Mackey, children's librarian, and Maria Hernandez, bilingual children's librarian and storyteller. The library team highlighted the many benefits of New Rochelle Public Library, including its many fun programs and the resources it provides, such as assistance with homework.    
Hernandez was the first to engage students, giving a spirited reading of author Rachel Isadora's book Say Hello, which teaches kids to say "hello" in a variety of languages from around the globe. She also led the group in a second book reading and a sing-a-long, both in English and Spanish.

"Maria's choices were perfect for our diverse New Rochelle population," said Roberta Loscalzo-Daly, a parent, Jefferson PTA executive member and event co-chair. "The students and families enjoyed the traditional piñata song. Everyone had a lot of fun."  

Next, an alumnus of the Jefferson Children's International Language Academy - which teaches Italian and Spanish - gave a reading of the classic children's book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which, in Italian, is  Il Piccolo Bruco Maisazio. Students also decorated yellow stars to be displayed at Jefferson.
NRHS Team Competes
at Business Olympics
A team of eight students represented New Rochelle High School in the countywide 2019 Business Skills Olympics, organized by African American Men of Westchester and held April 10 at Morgan Stanley in Purchase.

The annual competition, launched in 2003, challenges teams from schools across Westchester County to analyze graduate-level business school cases and develop and present solutions to specific problems. This year, more than 12 schools participated in the event.

The students were presented with a case related to Intelligent Assistants (IA), also known as virtual or voice assistants, which are software applications that employ artificial intelligence to perform services or tasks for a user. If you have computer, tablet, smartphone or smart speaker, IAs are likely familiar to you by the names Siri, Alexa or Cortana.

Each team prepared a plan and argued one of two points: Whether Google should keep their IA technology in-house to drive their own services and products, or license the technology broadly to third parties. Each team's four-minute presentation was judged by a panel of Morgan Stanley executives and prominent area professionals.

"Our team prepared a solid proposed solution that they were able to defend and support with logic," said Gustavo Barbosa, the New Rochelle Department Chair of Social Studies and Business.

The members of the NRHS team were David Doughty, Jonathan Gunthrope, Leroy Johnson, Abdul Keshnaro, Hassan Khan, Ajani Thomas, Brandon Thomas and Kamarhi Valcourt.
Students Gain Real-World Experience in MBK Programs
About 70 New Rochelle High School students gained experience in the professional world thanks to two programs from My Brother's Keeper New Rochelle. The organization placed students in week-long internships over spring break, and sent dozens of students to employers throughout the region yesterday for the third annual Take a Student Ambassador to Work Day.

The one-day program coincides with Take Your Son or Daughter to Work Day, and places students with companies from IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights to the Public Theater and Ogilvy in Manhattan.

Junior Asia Harris was one of several headed to the IBM Watson center. She is planning to study business administration.

"You're not absolutely sure what a career is until you see it first hand," she said.

Betania Vazquez, a senior, was spending the day at Columbia Law School to gain insight on the careers that interest her - law and teaching.

"It will help me to know what path I have to follow to get there," she said.

"This is a special day for these students as they get the opportunity to interact with engineers, doctors, lawyers, judges, investment bankers and professionals in the tech, music, marketing and education fields," said NRHS Interim Assistant Principal Camille Edwards Thomas, co-chair of MBKNewRo's Ambassador Committee.

"We are so glad this Career Exploration program MBKNewRo pioneered has been well-received by both students and employers," added Colleen Gardephe, Managing Director of MBKNewRo and co-chair of its Ambassador Committee. "We have doubled the number of students who participate and have seen a seventy percent increase in the number of employers hosting our students."

It was the first year for the Spring Break Internship Program presented by MBKNewRo, NRHS and the New Rochelle Chamber of Commerce. Employers included the New Rochelle YMCA, the Paine Cottage and the New Beginnings Performing Arts studio.
NRHS to Host Latinx Leadership Conference
More than 400 participants are expected tomorrow at the New Rochelle High School for the seventh annual Latinx Youth Leadership Conference from 9:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

It will be held in the school's Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium, near the main entrance at 265 Clove Road.

With student-organized workshops and interactive presentations, the event challenges misconceptions about Latinos and educates, celebrates and takes pride in the diverse accomplishments and potential of Latinos in America.

This year's theme is "Breaking Walls and Breaking Stereotypes." New York State Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz will deliver the keynote speech.

The conference, organized by NRHS United Cultures Club and the Hispanic Culture Club, is free of charge and open to all.