City School District of New Rochelle

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Voters to Decide on District's
2019-2020 Budget on Tuesday
Residents will have the opportunity to vote on the New Rochelle Board of Education's proposed $281,067,000 budget for the 2019-2020 school year next Tuesday, May 21.

The spending plan 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.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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 cap .

The budget includes additional 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.

State Aid and Non-tax Revenue Increases
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 District will receive $51,470,106 in state aid for the next year, up from $47,416,327 for the current year's budget.

The property tax rate to fund the budget would be $802.80 per $1,000 of assessed value. That is an increase of $17.08 or 2.17% over the current rate of $785.72 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Contractual and Salary Savings
The spending 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. With the new structure, transportation staff will report directly to the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Administration.

"This is a spending plan that respects the community's values and remains mindful of the taxpayers while allowing us to continue providing high quality education for all students in the District," Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey said.
Additional Staffing Breakdown
The plan adds instructional and related positions that meet state mandates and address priorities expressed by administrators and community members. Those include:
  • 4 special education teachers (2 for NRHS, 2 for the middle schools),
  • 3.4 English as a new language teachers (1 each for Jefferson and Trinity elementary schools, 0.6 for NRHS, 0.4 each for Ward Elementary School and Isaac E. Young Middle School),
  • 2 academic intervention specialists for NRHS,
  • 1.6 Spanish teachers (0.6 for Albert Leonard Middle School, 0.5 each for Columbus and Trinity elementary schools),
    Click on the image to see the District's Budget Newsletter in English and Spanish, which arrived in homes this week.
  • 1 middle school social studies chairperson,
  • 1 fifth-grade teacher for Columbus,
  • 1 districtwide speech teacher,
  • 1 home and careers teacher for IEYMS,
  • 1 counselor for ALMS,
  • 2 social workers for (one each for ALMS and IEYMS),
  • 1 nurse for ALMS,
  • 1 literacy coach for Davis Elementary School, and
  • 1 districtwide elementary school literacy coordinator.
The total cost of those positions is estimated at $2.4 million. Other positions added under the plan are four general school aides who would assist with bus monitoring and school security; a night custodial supervisor; and a painter. Two network technicians are recommended for the Technology Department, in addition to an Assistant Director.
Other Improvements
Among the items favored by the community, the budget allots $250,000 for a new press box and $200,000 for a renovated concession stand, both at New Rochelle High School's McKenna Field.

Capital projects also include partial roof repairs and replacement of auditorium seating at several schools.
Two Board Seats Open
Voters will elect two members of the nine-member Board of Education to serve at-large. The vacancies will be filled by the two highest vote-getters for five-year terms beginning July 1, 2019 and ending June 30, 2024.
For More Information
Visit the District's budget web page, which is devoted to information about this year's budget vote, such as the budget document, voting districts, commonly asked questions and answers, budget presentations and videos of the budget review sessions.

Additional questions about the budget may be sent to and don't forget to vote on Tuesday!
TheatreWorks' 'Rock City' Scores Seven Nominations
New Rochelle High School's TheatreWorks entered the regional Metro Awards high school musical competition for the first time in well over a decade with its recent staging of "See Rock City and Other Destinations".

The result: seven nominations, including one for Outstanding Overall Production.

It was even more than director Anthony Stirpe had hoped for.
Nominee Jazz Jenkins in "See Rock City"

"It makes me believe that quality over quantity does matter," said Stirpe, who was nominated for his direction of the series of vignettes about self-exploration. "This is a testament to the students and their work. They were recognized not because of flashy sets or flashy costumes. They were nominated because they believed in the story and they communicated it to the audience with passion and talent."

The Metropolitan High School Theatre Awards - that's the full name - are produced by Nyack's Helen Hayes Youth Theater. The honors "shine a spotlight on the exceptional musical theater productions, talented actors and actresses and devoted creative teams" among 55 participating schools in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties in New York and Bergen County in New Jersey, according to the organization's website.

The categories that "See Rock City" was recognized for are:
  • Outstanding Overall Production
  • Featured Ensemble Member: Ryan Basch (Carney)
  • Ensemble Group
  • Acting Performance Female: Jazz Jenkins (Kate)
  • Comic Performance Female: Jamie Cantone (Evan)
  • Student Orchestra
  • Director: Anthony Stirpe
The awards ceremony will be held at 7 p.m. on June 10 in the Concert Hall at Purchase College.
NRHS Business Department Hosts First Job Fair
The New Rochelle High School Business Department, in conjunction with the Guidance Center of Westchester, held its first job fair on May 10, providing students with an opportunity to meet with a variety of organizations, many of them local, in order to discuss summer employment.

Participating employers included: New Rochelle Youth Bureau, New Rochelle Recreation and Parks, VIP Country Club, U.S. Marines, U.S. Army, The Guidance Center of Westchester, Beth El Day Camp, Camp Pinebrook, My Brother's Keeper, FunFuzion New Rochelle, Glen Island Harbor Club and Beach Point Club.

The fair was held in NRHS outside the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium. Students prepared during class time by learning how to create an effective resume and present themselves in a professional manner. They dressed appropriately for interviews, resumes in hand. Many were able to schedule interviews with prospective employers, and others were even hired on the spot.

"It was a great opportunity for us to see which types of summer jobs are available around our community," said student Chris Semenza. "It felt good to actually give out the resume that I made during class to the employers that I was interested in working for."

Employer feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Julie Rockowitz, director of Beth El Day Camp in New Rochelle, said it was "a pleasure to meet such enthusiastic, motivated students. Their resumes were also well-prepared, polished, with no spelling errors or typos."

The Business Department plans on expanding and improving the job fair for many years to come.
Library Displays Middle and High School Art
A new collection of students' artwork fills the lobby of the New Rochelle Public Library for the second phase of the annual "Our Children, Our Artists" exhibition.

The current display features paintings, collages, ceramic pieces, surreal photo shopped scenes and more from the art classes of New Rochelle High School, the Alternative Campus High School and both middle schools - Isaac E. Young and Albert Leonard.

"It feels great," NRHS sophomore Areli Oliveros said about having her piece on display during a reception Wednesday. Her contribution to the show was a painting of Patrick, the starfish friend of SpongeBob SquarePants. "I worked really hard on that piece."

It's also a treat for the community members who pass through the lobby - 1,000 over the course of a week, according to Barbara Davis, the library's Community Relations Coordinator.

"A lot of people see it," she said. "A lot of people enjoy it. They can't believe it is the work of middle and high school students because it looks so professional."

The first phase of the annual exhibition, from April 29 through May 8, showcased artwork from the elementary schools. The current phase will remain on exhibition until Wednesday.

Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey thanked Davis and the library and told the student artists she was proud of them for the work they accomplished.

"New Rochelle has such a strong history and tradition in the arts, and the artwork from our students carries on and expands that tradition," she said. "I hope that for the next week, everyone who comes through the library will take a moment to look at these works of art. They'll find works that cover the entire spectrum. They are beautiful, striking, soothing, playful, serious, engaging and, most importantly, they are thought-provoking."

Julia Polycarpe, a seventh-grader at Isaac E. Young Middle School, described a painting of a bridge over a winding river that she created to represent the four elements - earth, fire, water and air. She put careful thought into it, using a sponge technique to create the leafy crowns of trees and a toothbrush to paint grass with a lively, spiky character.

She was happy to see her work in a public spot where so many people might see it.

"I feel truly honored," she said. "I hope they like it."
Sports Schedule
For upcoming New Rochelle athletic competitions, check out*

* This link connects to an outside website
Dates to Remember
Monday, May 20: SEPTA Executive Board Meeting and SEPTA General Board Meeting, NRHS Library, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., respectively

Monday, May 20: 5th Grade Parent Orientation, IEYMS, 5:45 p.m.

Monday, May 20: PTA Meeting, Trinity, 7 p.m.

Monday, May 20: NHS Induction, Whitney E. Young Auditorium, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Monday and Wednesday, May 20 and 22: Kindergarten Registration, Columbus

Monday-Friday, May 20-24: STEAM Week, Webster

Tuesday, May 21: School Board Election and Budget Vote, Various Polling Places, 7 a.m.- 9 p.m.

Tuesday, May 21: En Plein Air, NRHS, 7:20 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, May 21: Grandparents Day, Barnard

Tuesday, May 21: Showcase, Columbus, 9:30 a.m.

Tuesday, May 21: Band/Orchestra Concert, Davis, 7 p.m.

Wednesday, May 22: Pre-K Field Day, Barnard

Wednesday, May 22: NJHS Induction, ALMS

Wednesday, May 22: Spring Concert, Trinity

Wednesday, May 22: PAVE I, II, III Acting, Linda E. Kelly Theater, NRHS, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, May 22: Board of Education Special Meeting, Central Administration, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 23: K-2 Field Day, Barnard

Thursday, May 23: Spring Dance Concert, Whitney E. Young Auditorium, NRHS, 10 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Thursday, May 23: Science Research Symposium, NRHS, 7 p.m.

Friday-Monday, May 24-27: French, Grades 7 & 8 Trip to Quebec, IEYMS
Columbus Chess Students Win National Awards
Members of the Columbus Elementary School Chess Club are now national champions after taking first place in their division in the U.S. Chess Federation's National Elementary Championship in Nashville, Tennessee, last weekend.

The prize was one of six national awards - including two individual first-place wins - the team members won in the competition. Eleven students participated.

The championship games brought together 2,252 chess players from 46 states. They competed on 700 teams in 16 sections.

Columbus earned first place in the K-6 Under 1000 section with five team members participating. They played seven rounds over three days to win the hard-fought prize. The team members were Constantine Zelatis, Dylan Minchez, Ignacio Valencia, Dylan Solovyev and Aidan Rodriguez.

Zelatis won an individual award, coming in fifth place, winning six of the seven rounds. Minchez also won an individual award, coming in 25th place after winning five of the seven rounds. All of the Columbus students in this section of the team were awarded wall plaques for coming in first place, in addition to their team trophy.

"This was huge," said Mark Hegenauer, the chess team faculty coordinator. "It's one of the moments you always dream of."

In the first event on Thursday, the Columbus chess players competed in 11 rounds of Blitz (speed chess). Zelatis won first place for chess players rated under 1,000 and Minchez also came in first place for chess players rated under 800. The Columbus team earned seventh place in the nation for Blitz chess.

Four students competed in the K-5 Under 900 section. They were Naolin Concha, Joel Salick, Giovanna Murgia and Gianna Murgia. They came in 29th place in their section.
Giulianna Murgia and Ashley Corazao competed in the K-3 Under 700 section.

Hegenauer said the chess club is "a grassroots program" that went up against teams from 46 states, including some with much larger numbers of players to give them an edge in sections in which the top performers are chosen. Traveling to Nashville and emerging with such success was a testament to the chess players, and the immense support system around them, he said.

"We have a great group of students, we have parents coming out who are dedicated and willing to contribute their resources," Hegenauer said. "We have a principal, Michael Galland, who appreciates and understands chess, and we have a supportive PTA. Everyone came together and supported us."

Galland said the devotion of many people were reflected in the victory.

"This championship is the kids', to be sure, but it is also the culmination of almost twenty years of effort and energy that so many Columbus families have poured into the chess program with Mark's guidance and leadership," the Principal said. "Since the late 1990s, many tight-knit Columbus families have worked together, supported those who couldn't afford to travel or pay for tournaments and kept the culture of chess alive. This championship is a collective triumph that includes so many wonderful people over many years."
'Poetry Out Loud' Festival Celebrates Students' Verse
Well-crafted words and images of seasons and siblings, lost pets and dreams of freedom filled the air when young students took the microphone at Poetry Out Loud: A Festival of Children's Poetry on Monday.

"If you try to build between us, we will come back together," Albert Leonard Middle School sixth-grader Elana Adams read from her poem "Inseparable". She addressed the audience from the stage at the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium in New Rochelle High School.

Jefferson Elementary School third-grader Ava Jackson read from her piece "The Outrageous Necklace": "So many colors. So beautiful too. Its shapes are like olives with a rainbow hue."

In its 21st year, the night of verse featured poets in grades 3 through 6. They represented each of the six K-5 elementary schools and both middle schools. Drawing hundreds of family members, friends, schoolmates and lovers of the written word, the event is a highlight of the year, presented by The Jeremy Scheinfeld Publishing Center, a program of the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence.

"The body of work is wide, and truly impressive," said Sabrina Toback, executive director of the Fund, to introduce the evening. "Tonight, these youthful authors join the ranks of seventeen hundred or so other students who have taken the Poetry Out Loud stage over the previous two decades. That's more than a generation's worth! I want to congratulate all of the poets tonight, and tell each of you how excited we are to support you. Thank you for sharing your poetry with us!"

The poems were collected in a keepsake book that was handed out at the event.

Kiana Cruz, a sixth-grader at Isaac E. Young Middle School, wrote about her older brother in her poem, "The Giant I look Up To." George M. Davis Jr. Elementary School third-grader Jadi Zottner wrote about turtles. Carlos Calderon-Hernandez, a fifth-grader at William B. Ward Elementary School, wrote a loving tribute to New York State, called simply "New York."

Columbus Elementary School fifth-grader Jasselyn Santana wrote a powerful poem about immigration; "Freedom Dream."
"In my country we had no food or water," she read. "I come here with no price to pay except the freedom to work hard toward my dream."

Mayor Noam Bramson emceed, and the show featured several guest readers. Board of Education President Jeffrey Hastie read "America" by Claude McKay and "The Struggle Staggers Us" by Margaret Walker. Interim Superintendent Dr. Magda Parvey chose a poem written by New Rochelle High School student Sara Guarin; "Sara With No H".

Principals John Barnes of ALMS and Anthony Bambrola of Davis also read poems.
Botanical Garden Author Visits Amy's Greenhouse
Pre-K students at Barnard Early Childhood Center welcomed New York Botanical Garden children's author and garden educator Anne Mottola to Amy's Greenhouse last week. The author's visit was a wonderful kick-off to prime garden season and what is shaping up to be a busy spring season at the greenhouse. She engaged with the group through readings and activities, piquing their interest in gardening and nature.

Mottola co-wrote and illustrated the three-book series Wonders in the Garden! with her sister Maria. The series includes the titles What Grows in the Garden?, What Lives in the Garden and What Do You Sense in the Garden? The books introduce children to the flora, fauna and sensations to be discovered in a garden. Mottola and her sister hope that "each book will instill a love of gardening in children who read them and inspire them to be caretakers of the environment."

Mottola shared her inspiration for the three-book series and discussed her writing process. Along with reading from the books, students also worked directly with the author to complete literacy activities. The hands-on, authentic experiences helped students deepen their understanding of the relationship between nature and the wonder of learning, and created meaningful learning connections across all content areas for the group.

Amy's Greenhouse continues to be a venue for New Rochelle students to learn about themselves in the context of nature. It provides opportunities to be a part of something greater than themselves, to embrace their own humanity and to volunteer in their community. It helps them realize that they each have unique contributions they can make to the world. 

In preparation for Mottola's visit, student volunteers from both Barnard and the High School chipped in on a Saturday to get the greenhouse ready. Their hard work also helped ensure that Amy's Greenhouse it was ready for the big Mother's Day Fair & Plant Sale.
Off Broadway Show Teaches About Inclusion
Addy & Uno, an upbeat off-Broadway show with a message of inclusion, traveled a little farther from the Great White Way last week when it visited the City School District of New Rochelle schools, to the delight of hundreds of students from four schools.

The play mixes live actors with puppets to depict characters with different abilities. They are friends who attend the same school, respecting each other's uniqueness. Addy has ADHD. Uno has autism. Another friend has cerebral palsy uses a wheelchair.

"They're perfectly fine," said sixth-grader Noah Simmons after seeing the show in Isaac E. Young Middle School. Whatever their abilities, "they can be a really good group of friends."

The performers staged the show in New Rochelle on March 9, first in Columbus Elementary School, then in IEYMS. A class from Jefferson Elementary School joined Columbus for the showing, and IEYMS played host to some Trinity students for its performance. Students heard songs such as "Watch Me Fly" and learned the sign language gestures for "You can count on friends."

"I absolutely loved it," said sixth-grader Zainab Iqbal. "I am in love with the characters. It's such a positive vibe."

She felt sure that it would change the attitudes of people who are not always welcoming to those around them.

"If they watch this, their heart will open up and they will become a nicer person, I promise you."

The company's visit was supported by a  collaboration between The New Rochelle Fund, the Special Education, Columbus and IEYMS PTAs and the Special Education Department.

"The students loved it," said Jamie Ruhl, a Columbus speech and language teacher who helped write the successful grant application to the Fund. "The energy was great, the performers were great. It was definitely very meaningful for everyone. We're always promoting inclusion in our school and this performance was a good opportunity for the students to see what we're always talking about in action."

"This was an amazing opportunity to show students that it's our differences that truly make each of us unique and special," said Dara Joseph, Director of Special Education who approved the grant and provided additional funding.