Port Chester Community Passes 2018-19 Budget, Two School Board Members Elected
The Port Chester School District community passed the 2018-19 budget, ensuring that vital academic programs are funded for another year.
On May 15, nearly 2,000 residents headed to the polls to cast their votes. The proposed $97,227,468 budget was passed by 1,197 to 729 votes. Community members Christopher Wolff and Luigi Russo were elected to the Board of Education.
“We deeply appreciate the community’s support of the budget’s passage,” said Superintendent Edward Kliszus. “This will permit us to fund our schools adequately and to provide for the academic needs of the many children in our care.”
The budget fulfills its pledge of remaining under the tax levy cap by using existing revenue and implementing budget cuts. It retains vital academic programs that students need for their success and achievement. It also prioritizes general and humanities offerings, athletics, Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and numerous support programs for our most vulnerable children.
“It is the community’s ongoing support that has enabled our students to enjoy significant successes,” Dr. Kliszus said, “as recently memorialized in U.S. News & World Report’s national and state school rankings.”
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
VIDEO: Building A District for the Digital Age
Virtual field trips, a coding club and peer-to-peer teaching. These are a handful of innovative ways that children in the Port Chester School District are increasingly receiving an education rife with integrated advanced technology.
Our district is dedicating itself to dynamically improving the digital skills of students and teachers so that they can handle the new world that technology is shaping. It helps them broaden their academic opportunities and reach their scholastic goals.
Over the past few decades, classrooms have changed technologically – and they will continue to evolve. No longer do students sit through a “computer class;” technology is now used throughout the day and in most classes as a versatile tool. It helps students better understand concepts, think more critically, expand their creativity and adapt to new situations.
During this very busy time of year, I would like to give you an advance look at our June calendar, which is detailed below. This letter is also located on our website. This notice will allow you time to make any necessary plans for the upcoming end-of-year events. All final exams will be administered during class time.
This year we will be celebrating the 8th graders by having three “Academy Award” ceremonies to culminate their three years at PCMS. Parents and family members will no longer be limited to 2 guests. After the ceremony, students will meet families in the dining room for refreshments and pictures. They will then return to their classes.
May 18 2pm Dismissal for all students
PCMS Hosting New York State School Music Association solo festival
May 23 NJHS Ceremony – PCMS Auditorium at 3 pm
June 6 Band Night PCHS
June 7 Lake Compounce Trip – Grade 7
June 8 Holiday Hill Trip Grade 8
June 11 Performing Arts Awards – PCMS Auditorium at 3:15 pm
Port Chester Team Honored with Innovative Partners Award
Teachers and supervisors from Port Chester Public Schools were part of a group that received a prestigious innovation award for its participation in the Lower Hudson Computer Science and STEAM Academy.
The Lower Hudson Regional Information Center’s Technology Leadership Institute bestowed academy members with the Outstanding Innovative Partners Award at the Transforming Education Leadership and Learning Awards. The celebration took place on March 29 at the Edith Macy Conference Center in Briarcliff.
The academy is a multi-year, district-level program for administrators and classroom teacher-leaders to collaboratively design, implement and evaluate a full-scale, comprehensive K-8 program in computer science/coding and/or STEAM that is unique to each district. It addresses systemic inequities in providing essential academic programs in the areas of computer science and engineering.
The Lower Hudson Computer Science and STEAM Academy members were recognized for their innovative spirit and dedication to identifying computer science and STEAM as core disciplines. The academy was highlighted for its level of commitment, willingness to take risks and openness to challenging pre-existing assumptions. The districts were also celebrated for their high-impact work and desire to share their expertise while forming a community of practice.
Port Chester’s academy members are:
Jamie Levidis (supervisor for elementary math/science)
Michael Ritacco (supervisor for middle/high school math/science)
The other local school districts that are part of the Lower Hudson Computer Science and STEAM Academy are Croton-Harmon, Mahopac, Peekskill, Suffern and Yorktown.
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Important Message about Digital Safety
It was brought to our attention late yesterday that a minor-aged student posted a potential, non-specific digital threat directed towards Port Chester High School. All such threats are taken seriously. Police were immediately notified, and the individual was identified as a current PCHS student. That individual has been removed from the school and will face consequences consistent with the District Code of Conduct and New York State SAVE legislation.
Please use this incident as a teachable moment for you to ensure that your child uses social media safely and responsibly.
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Presentation on Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Would you like to learn more about Historically Black Colleges and Universities but don't know who to ask?
Dennis Richmond will present the HCBU Initiative to the Port Chester/Rye Branch NAACP on Tuesday, June 5, at 7 p.m. at its monthly membership meeting at the Carver Center, 400 Westchester Avenue. This event is for you if you are in the 6th through 10th grade, a guidance counselor, a parent or guardian or a middle or high school administrator.
Admission is free. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email to email@example.com or 914-980-6160.
Students at Park Avenue School enjoyed a trot outside during the warmer weather for their "Welcome Spring" walk.
On April 13, children were all smiles as they were led outdoors by their teachers to greet the milder temperatures and new season. Following several weeks of snow-laden streets, they walked around in t-shirts on a 75 degree day.
PARK AVENUE SCHOOL
Important Notice to Parents Regarding School Safety and the ELC
Please see the letter, linked here, to the community from Superintendent of Schools Dr. Edward Kliszus. (Para la versión en español de este documento, haga clic en este enlace.) There are two subjects of this letter. First is the matter of school safety in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., tragedy. The second is in regards to the decision by the Board of Education to close the JFK Early Learning Center at the Holy Rosary School at the school year's end.
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
S.T.E.M. Fair rescheduled to Monday March 26th!
Please be advised that the S.T.E.M. Fair has been rescheduled due to expected inclement weather.
KING STREET SCHOOL
Ram's Ramble- Vol 5 Issue 2
Attached is the 2nd issue of our school newspaper, the Ram's Ramble. Enjoy!
Attention Students: Medieval Times Lunch and Tournament
Please join us for a trip to Medieval Times
April 13, 2018 8:00 am-4:00 pm
$45 per person
Deposit Due March 16, 2018
Payment Plan Available
Kindly see Ms. Rodman in Room 115
PORT CHESTER HIGH SCHOOL
Spain Trip 2018
During the 2017-18 school year, 19 Port Chester Middle School students and four chaperones will participate in an exchange program with 19 Spanish students from I.E.S. Gerardo Diego, a middle school located in Pozuelo de Alarcón, a town about nine miles from Madrid, Spain. The Port Chester Middle School participating students and chaperones will depart for Madrid on Thursday, May 10, 2018 and return on Friday, May 18.
This cultural exchange program has two components. The first is the hosting of the Spanish students from I.E.S. Gerardo Diego with families from Port Chester Middle School.
For one week, from Friday, March 9 to Friday, March 16, the Spanish students from Spain will experience our community culture and become new family members. The paired students, students from Port Chester and Spain, will participate in pedagogical and social gatherings as well as enjoy some cultural and educational New York City field trips.
They will visit many interesting and attractive places such as The Promenade in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn Bridge, Financial Center in Downtown Manhattan, China Town, Little Italy, Madison Square Garden, The Empire State Building, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, The American Museum of Natural History and Central Park. Lastly, they will embark on and a ninety – minute Skyline Cruise on the Hudson River.
The second component will take place in Madrid from Thursday, May 10 to Friday, May 18. In Spain, the paired students will enjoy a full day trip to Madrid and other historical and medieval cities such as Alcalá de Henares, Toledo and Segovia. This trip will be chaperoned by Mrs. Jenna Garguilo, Mr. Matthew Gryzlo, Mrs. Cindy Martinez and Mr. Esteban Guijarro, the trip coordinator.
We believe that this exchange program will be a great cultural, social and educational experience for our students and community.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information or if you would like to interview any of the participating PCMS exchange program students.
PORT CHESTER MIDDLE SCHOOL
Eighth Grade Transition to PCHS Student Parent Presentation
In early January, four students returned to the Port Chester campus for a special talk with Superintendent Edward Kliszus and high school principal Mitchell Combs.
“It’s important that our current students and community to understand that our graduates are well-prepared for success in the college and university setting,” said Dr. Kliszus. “Furthermore, success can be achieved by all of our students who choose to fully utilize the resources available at Port Chester High School.”
In addition to discussing their time in Port Chester, the recent graduates also spoke about their experiences in college. The roundtable served as a way to offer valuable insights to the local school community.
“The information that our guests share with us really is heard and sometimes incorporated into our future planning, so we listen to what they have to say,” said Dr. Combs.
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Pup Pipi Crowned in PCMS’ Cutest Pet Contest as Students Show Generous Spirit
From a flock of adorable dogs and cats, students at Port Chester Middle School crowned Pipi – a rat terrier, Pomeranian, miniature pincher and pitbull mix – as the cutest pet.
During December, cheerful students voted in the “Cutest Pet Contest,” which consisted of 34 dogs and cats owned by PCMS staff members. Each child donated $1 to cast a vote – and raised over $600, which was given to Pet Rescue, a pet adoption service in Harrison. The winner, Pipi, is owned by physical education teacher Melissa Piccola.
As a surprise, on Dec. 22, the PCMS auditorium was visited by a handful of adorable furry friends - puppies to adult dogs. The students were bright with excitement, kneeling down to cuddle with them. Others giggled, overjoyed to pet and feed them treats. While some of the dogs belonged to Port Chester staff members, most were available to adopt from Pet Rescue.
The initiative was spearheaded by the PCMS physical education staff from the desire to give back to the local community. Mr. Michael Bonanno had never owned a dog until two years ago when he adopted his Norwich terrier.
“The children saw how important the lives of pets are,” he said. “My dog changed my life. In class, we talk about stress management and how dogs can help with relaxation. This event is also about giving back to others.”
The money raised was donated to Pet Rescue to help increase awareness for animal adoptions. In addition, students and staff also donated pet food, blankets, beds and toys to help the animals currently at the organization.
PCMS Principal Patrick Swift was proud of his students for their willingness to donate, praising their kind-heartedness and saying that the children always share with the community at any opportunity. Pet Rescue's Judith Roth attended the event and was also grateful for PCMS' caring nature.
“We are so overwhelmed by the students’ generosity,” she said. “Through the school’s support, we are able to save dogs and give them a home.”
PORT CHESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Port Chester Programs Receive Funding for Student Success
Two of Port Chester Public Schools’ partner programs were awarded Westchester County Youth Bureau “Invest in Kids” grants.
In late-December, the organization granted “One World” and “Steer for Student-Athletes” with funding for a three-year period, beginning in 2018. Each program will receive approximately $45,000 each year.
The One World program, “Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders,” helps Port Chester Schools to further its character education program, which was initiated last year (with assistance from the Harvard Think Tank on Global Competence). The funding will also support the implementation of the nation’s leading character education program, Character.org.
Funding for the Steer for Student-Athletes program will support the expansion of existing programs in Port Chester Public Schools. The program provides support services – including giving social, academic and athletic assistance to student-athletes in order to graduate – and prepares them for further education into college and careers.
“Our district is pleased and proud to continue our partnerships to bring high-quality and effective support programming to our students,” said Joe Durney, Port Chester’s Deputy Superintendent. “These organizations support district initiatives that have proven effective. We are delighted that this funding will further our mission to ensure our students’ success.”
Candidates Christopher Wolff (incumbent) and Luigi Russo won seats on the school board. Their new terms will be from 7/1/2018 to 6/20/2021.
BOARD OF EDUCATION TIMELINE
March 13: Budget draft presentation
April 10: Line-by-line review
April 17: Budget Adoption
May 1: Budget Hearing
May 15: Annual Budget Vote & School Board Elections
"Success for Every Student"
Our motto, “Success for Every Student,” highlights the Port Chester Public Schools’ vision to prepare students academically and emotionally for college and career. To engage and support all children from kindergarten through 12th grade, we offer high-quality academics, along with a rich variety of athletics, arts, clubs, extra-curricular activities and community service options. Students may decide to pursue trade or university training, start a business, join the military or follow a unique path. With a diverse education, they can begin shaping their futures.
Highlights of how we promote success for every student:
We received the highest state aid increase for the 2017-18 academic year, thanks to local advocacy efforts; this totaled nearly $8 million in additional funds over the past five years.
We passed an $80 million bond to address overcrowding and update critical facilities.
PCHS is an International Baccalaureate World School, offering the prestigious IB Diploma Program. It also offers a New York State “seal of bi-literacy” on diplomas for qualifying students.
We have an elementary enrichment program, concentrating on gifted students. Most recently, they studied software engineering coding.
PCHS was ranked 161 of 1,500 public New York high schools in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best High Schools rankings, earning a silver medal awarded to only 2.4% of eligible high schools.
We enriched our use of social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – for stronger community communication.
We negotiated responsible employee contracts to ensure sufficient annual savings and maintain the tax rebate for property taxpayers.
We now have content specialist supervisors/directors in ELA, math and science to improve instructional practices and student success.
We refurbished our PCMS planetarium with state-of-the-art sound/video equipment. The planetarium was non-functional for over a decade.
After losing 21stCentury funding for after-school programs, we received a donation from the Dalio Foundation and partnered with the Carver Center to provide high-quality after-school programming.
Nearly 40% of our students are enrolled in Advanced Placement, IB and Honors courses. We offer 11 IB and 12 AP courses. In recent years, PCHS added AP environmental science, computer science, statistics courses and physics.
We have a championship marching band and offer vocal and instrumental music for all students.
Our 2017 football team won the AA Central League championship for the first time in 15 years.
Tax Cap Q&A
Please read the following information about the tax levy cap to understand its function and how it impacts school districts and community members.
Q: What is the Property Tax Levy Cap? A: The Property Tax Levy Cap, created by legislation that was passed in June, 2011, places new restrictions on how school districts (and municipalities) may increase their tax levies. Although the new law has been referred to as a "2% tax cap," it does not in fact restrict any proposed tax levy increase to 2%. However, the law requires at least 60% voter approval for a school budget if the proposed levy increase exceeds a certain amount. That amount, which is called the "tax levy limit," will be determined by each district according to a formula outlined in the law. It is unique and will vary by district. Q: Does the Property Tax Cap law limit the annual increase of my property taxes to less than 2% each year? A: The law does not cap an individual's school tax bill. Its requirements apply only to the total school tax levy - the total amount in property taxes a district collects. Increases in individual taxes are often different than increases in the levy due to a variety of factors outside a school district's control, including assessment values in the community.
Q: Does the Property Tax Cap mean the total school tax levy will be limited to a 2% increase each year? A: No. There are exceptions that may result in a tax levy increase greater than 2%. Some of those exceptions include district growth as a result of new construction and legally mandated pension contributions. Ultimately, school districts will use a complex calculation involving eight different steps to come up with the tax levy limit.
Q: To maintain educational programming, can the district propose a budget that exceeds the tax levy cap limit? A: Districts have the option to exceed their tax levy limits with 60% voter approval.
Q: What happens if voters reject the budget? A: The law contains new contingent budget restrictions. If a district fails to gain voter approval and must adopt a contingent budget, then there can be NO increase in the tax levy at all. This would force incredibly difficult budget decisions for the district.