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Bronxville Government and History

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Record Enrollment at Bronxville School Expected through 2017 PDF Print Email

Nov. 27, 2013:  A 5.2 percent enrollment increase at The Bronxville School for its 2013-2014 year, which exceeded the projected 3 percent increase, prompted administrators and the Bronxville Board of Education to discuss and analyze anticipated future enrollment trends in advance of budget preparation for 2014-2015. The district projects a 4.7 percent increase for next year.

Superintendent Dr. David Quattrone presented a detailed history of enrollment since 2009, along with projections to 2017, at the board's regular meeting on November 21. Concerns range from budget preparation, which is based upon projected enrollment changes, to class size, especially in the elementary school, staffing levels and the most effective use of staff, and the overall burden to the school's physical plant.

The 2013-2014 school year opened with a record number of students enrolled at the school, 1,717.  Significant increases experienced at the elementary school have prompted concern about class size. 

The average elementary school class size stands at 22.6, up from 21.4 during the 2012-2013 school year. Grade 1 has increased by 20 students to 119, and grade 4 grew by 15 students to 146. In anticipation of increased kindergarten enrollment, which, at 123, is up by 14 students over last year, the district added one section.

Quattrone noted that enrollment numbers remained rather consistent until 2009. Heidi Menzel, interim elementary school principal, stated that more students have enrolled almost each year since then.

While some grade 1 sections have as many as 24 students, each section also has an aide assigned to assist the teachers. Aides have also been assigned to some sections of grade 4, which has classes as large as 25 students.

PTA president Margaret Mager stated in a later conversation that parents care very much about class size, but that with Bronxville being an attractive community with a desirable school, small class sizes are almost impossible to sustain.

"I do think people are very aware of the larger class sections and very concerned about it," Mager said, "but at the same time, it seems that the experience the children are having is generally pretty good."  She commended teachers for managing effectively in their classrooms and noted that having "that extra adult, that extra pair of hands" an aide provides, helps teachers.

Quattrone described the significant increases as "pressure points" that the administration and board will need to consider as these groups move through the elementary school and into the middle and high schools. He reported that the administration is meeting with each principal to review anticipated staffing needs based on the projections.

For 2014-2015, the district projects 152 students will be in grade 5. The existing six sections will be kept in place. Grade 1, with five sections, is expected to have 135 students.

"The policy we have states that the board prefers to have classes of 25 or under," Quattrone said, addressing the class size issue. He stated that adding a section is a judgment call rather than a decision prompted by a "specific trigger." He described class size as only one variable of educational quality.

"The age of the child, the teaching methods that are being employed, and, in some cases, the subject, are what we consider in making judgments where to add staff," Quattrone said.

Speaking to the board, Mager emphasized the importance of demographer estimates in projecting enrollment. "How can we be confident that the projections for the upcoming year are adequate? It's very central to how we build our budget. How can we have confidence that we're not going to have issues in our school because of under-forecasting our enrollment?"

Beyond the issues of class size, Mager urged the board to consider the impact of increasing enrollment, projected to reach 1,779 students by 2017, on the common areas of the school's physical plant--the lunchroom, playgrounds, and gymnasium.

In response to questions raised by board members Dr. James Hudson and Pierre de Saint Phalle about enrollment growth trends and residency patterns in Bronxville, Quattrone stated that the only reliable evidence available to him is "who comes across the door." This year, he said, evidence indicated that students were returning from private schools.

Mager stated that the PTA is encouraged to see the district incorporating rising enrollment as a context in planning the 2014-2015 budget.

Pictured here:  A high school classroom in The Bronxville School.

Photo by A. Warner

 
Tina Staudt Honored at Concordia’s 32nd Annual Community Dinner: See Photos PDF Print Email

 

Nov. 27, 2013: On November 6, friends and neighbors gathered in the Schoenfeld Campus Center for Concordia College's community dinner. Now in its 32nd year, this annual event celebrates the college's partnership with the community and includes the presentation of the President's Award for Excellence in Educational Service to the Community. The event also honored past award recipients.

President Dr. Viji George presented the 2013 award to Christina Staudt for her impressive record of civic leadership and social responsibility.

Staudt, a Bronxville resident, holds positions on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations that serve the aging and suffering. She is co-founder and past president of the Westchester End-of-Life Coalition and an active hospice volunteer, and she recently launched LiveWithCare.org, a website designed to help Westchester residents prepare for and cope with serious illness and the end of life.

She is also chair of the Columbia University Seminar on Death and is an associate of the recently launched DeathLab at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She also serves on the advisory board of the OSilas Gallery at Concordia.

"We gather to lift up one among us, a living example of what we hold near and dear to our hearts. We honor Tina for her outstanding service and commitment to education, community, and the common good," said Dr. Viji George, president of Concordia College. He added, "Bronxville has been Concordia's home for more than a century, we are blessed to be part of this community and are happy to share in this joyous evening."

The room, decorated by Mrs. Morgan's Flower Shop, glowed with amber light; autumnal flowers and checkered ribbons of red, orange, and gold adorned the tables.

To see photos of those attending, click on this link: Christina Staudt Honored at Concordia College's 32nd Annual Community Dinner.

Pictured here:  Honoree Christina Staudt with Dr. Viji George, president of Concordia College, at the annual community dinner.

Photos by Natasha Miller

 
Bronxville Historical Conservancy to Sponsor K-12 Educational Program for Eastchester 350th Anniversary Celebration PDF Print Email

Nov. 27, 2013:  Judy Unis and Bill Dowling, co-chairs of The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, have announced a $10,000 grant to support the Eastchester 350th anniversary celebration's K-12 educational program next year.

In 2014, students in every school in Eastchester, Tuckahoe, and Bronxville--public as well as parochial and private--will have an opportunity to learn some local history:  that the town's roots go back to the Eastchester Covenant of 1665; that the marble quarries drew many early European immigrant workers and their families to the town; that world-renowned artists, authors, and celebrities have lived here; that the first president of the United States to serve as a Boy Scout did so here; and that the town has been home to four Congressional Medal of Honor winners, as well as countless brave soldiers who served in all the country's wars.

In addition to exploring these topics, the town's youngsters will be challenged to select a history project of their own. They will be asked to produce an essay, an artistic composition, a film or video, a poem, a drama, or a mixed-media piece focused on this rich past, dependent on the avenues for achievement offered in their own schools. Older middle and high school students may wish to develop research subjects into scholarly papers that will reveal even more of the town's unsung history.

To support these endeavors, the steering committee of Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. approached each of the public school districts last year to solicit administrative and faculty support and asked The Bronxville Historical Conservancy if that organization would provide funding as the exclusive sponsor for the K-12 educational program.

Dr. Robert Wein, former co-chair of the Conservancy and Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. committee member, said, "When we learned the scope of the project designed by Dick Forliano [current town historian and retired Eastchester Middle School teacher], I was delighted to present this to the Conservancy as a project worthy of being funded."   

After due diligence from the group's projects committee, headed by former Bronxville Mayor Nancy Hand, the Bronxville Historical Conservancy board enthusiastically approved the sponsorship. "The Conservancy’s mission is perfectly matched to that of the town's celebration of its heritage. We are pleased to play a part in increasing knowledge of our rich local history by supporting educators who wish to emphasize it in the community's anniversary year," noted Hand.

With encouragement from Bronxville's Jack Bierwirth, superintendent of the Herrick Schools on Long Island and also a member of the board of The Bronxville Historical Conservancy, the three town public school superintendents quickly indicated their support. Each appointed a district liaison for the 350th anniversary celebration, and an individual school faculty member was also selected to work within the various faculties. Town historian Forliano has reached out to the four other local elementary schools in the community and expressed his appreciation for their enthusiastic endorsement.

"With our eastchester350.org website launched, teachers and students have many resources right at their fingertips," said Forliano. "We have published this program online so that parents as well as teachers will have the opportunity to assist their children while enriching their own understanding of Eastchester, Tuckahoe, and Bronxville's past."

A click through the website section titled "Our History" reveals 17th- and early 18th-century founding documents, an explanation of what is meant by "Keeping the Covenant," and a catalogue of town and village vintage and modern photographs and maps, with credit given to the sources for each. 

Numerous links to state and county archives, to other historical repositories, and to research tools can also be found there. A section titled "Historians' Corner" yields copies of newspaper articles relative to the town's history and research undertaken in the past. 

Eastchester’s 350th anniversary celebration will feature lectures, educational programs for all students, a Siwanoy Country Club gala, a community day at Lake Isle with trolley tours and re-enactments, a supersize exhibit in the fall at Concordia College, and the publication of a well-researched and richly illustrated book on the history of the town.  

Residents and community organizations are invited to participate, to support the celebration with contributions, and to volunteer their own family and institutional memories. All local organizations are encouraged to submit their group's particular history and keep the town's birthday in mind when planning their own 2014 events. These histories and announcements can be posted on the new website. The steering committee reserves the right to edit and upload all website materials.

Residents may contact individual steering committee members or use the email CLOAKING .

Although costs have been kept to a minimum, all the community programs require financial support.  

Contributions to Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. are tax deductible, since the group is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Checks may be mailed to Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc., 40 Mill Rd., Eastchester, NY 10709.

Pictured here: Bronxville Historical Conservancy's project committee chair Nancy Hand and Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc. board member Bob Wein.

Photo courtesy Linda Doherty, Co-Chair, Steering Committee, Eastchester 350th Anniversary, Inc.

 
Bronxville's Mary Cain Decides to Go Pro PDF Print Email


Nov. 20, 2013:  While most Bronxville seniors have been agonizing over the college process this fall, Mary Cain has had much more on her mind. Cain, who joined the Bronxville track team five years ago, has established herself as an elite runner and was struggling with the decision whether to continue as an amateur in college or join the ranks of the pros. Last Friday, at the World Athletics Gala in Monaco, Cain announced her decision to turn pro.

"It was definitely a hard decision to turn professional," said Cain in an IAAF website interview on Friday. "Over the summer I didn't really think too much about it because at the time I was focused on running."

During the fall, Cain was looking at a few schools and had narrowed her choice down to University of Oregon, but in the end, she decided to join the Oregon Project in Portland. Cain, a straight-A student at Bronxville High School, will likely attend the University of Portland.

"Some people might say that I won't have as much fun by turning pro early," explained Cain in the IAAF interview, "but I've had such an amazing year. I was looking at both options and both were great, but I wanted to continue what I've been doing and I felt that the next step was to go pro."

Cain will continue to train under Alberto Salazar at the Oregon Project, a group formed by Nike in Portland to promote American long-distance runners. It is expected that she will sign a contract with Nike.

"I love the group I am with in the Oregon Project," added Cain in the IAAF interview. "It's a great group and I have a really good time around them. For me, I think it will be good to be around them but at college I will stay on campus so I will still get that college experience. It is an older group that I am with so I will have my younger friends and my older friends. It'll be good."

Cain, who swam with the Bronxville swim team in the fall of seventh grade, switched to running in the spring and immediately made her mark. As a young middle schooler, she qualified for the New York State Championships in the 3000m, finishing seventh in the small school division. By the summer of her sophomore year, she was competing against world-class athletes at the World Junior Championships in Barcelona, setting the US high school record in the 1500m. Last October, Cain left the Bronxville team to train with Salazar, and since then she has broken countless records. She holds both the high school and junior records in the indoor 1500m, 3000m, mile, and two-mile and also holds the outdoor records in the 800m and 1500m.

Cain did not compete this fall but was often seen down at the track at Chambers Field working on her form. She works hard, running up to 60 miles per week. It might be a grueling schedule for some, but Cain seems to truly enjoy it.

"Yes, I am going pro and that is a big step. It will be hard," remarked Cain on the IAAF website. "But as long as I am having fun with it still, that is all that I care about. That has always been my goal."

Pictured here:  Mary Cain.

Photo by Jim Hudson

 
Bronxville Residents Remember the Day Kennedy Died PDF Print Email

Nov. 20, 2013: As dozens of Bronxville parents have done in years past, Janet Johnson was a chaperone on the middle school trip to Williamsburg on that Friday, November 22, 50 years ago.

"We were in Williamsburg on our bus and a man came and pounded on the door and said, 'Did you hear? The president's been shot!'"

Patty Warble was teaching reading to her second graders at PS 109 in East Harlem. The intercom suddenly came on and she could hear a radio report coming through.

"I heard something about a grassy knoll, as I remember, and you just knew something awful had happened and somehow I just knew it was Kennedy."

As soon as her students were dismissed, she headed downtown to meet her husband of three months at NYU, where he was a law student. "I got on the Lexington Avenue subway at 96th Street and people were just sitting there crying or just sitting in stunned silence."

Carlo Vittorini was working at Look magazine in Midtown Manhattan. He heard the news as he headed back to his office that afternoon. "In the office, it was mayhem, a quiet type of mayhem, grief, great sorrow, and just this terrible feeling of waste, of how unnecessary it was, how cruel."

In what was then West Germany, Dorothy Bowerman heard it on television. She was a young US Air Force wife, stationed with her husband and three small children at Ramstein Air Base. "We were very upset and decided to go for a walk nearby. As we got out of the car, there were several Germans around. They were so sad, the Germans were so sad. Just looking at them you could see it. They were afraid. They didn't want to look us in the face. They lowered their heads. They were very sympathetic and sorrowful and respectful of our loss."

This was the height of the Cold War, of course, and Kennedy had given his famous, blistering, almost triumphant "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech in Germany just months before.

Bowerman, who has lived in Bronxville for eight years, said that all these years later, there is still sadness over that loss.

"I think it was one of the first real violent crimes, one of the first public atrocities in this country; that, combined with the fact that the president was so popular and it was so unexpected, I think we lost an enormous amount."

Bob Riggs, who grew up in Bronxville, agrees. He wonders about JFK and the Vietnam War.

"The whole issue of Vietnam, would he have permitted it to continue, is an open question. Some claim that JFK would have pulled out of Vietnam and I sort of sense that. If that assumption is correct, then we certainly did lose something very, very substantial, because I don't know of any experience during the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, that was worse than Vietnam."

As a young lawyer working on Wall Street the day Kennedy was shot, Riggs remembers a particular sound in the air that afternoon.

"It caused literally a buzz on Wall Street. People were walking around with radios to their ears. That was the way people could carry the news with them back then."

When a crying teacher walked into her sixth grade classroom in Winnetka, Illinois, that afternoon and told ten-year-old Lisa Kunstadter and her classmates the news, Kunstadter had the sense that something big had ended in an instant.

"Looking back on it, you have a sense that it was the beginning of some sea change, the sense that we weren't safe. The ground under your feet was not firm anymore. I remember being shocked when Lee Harvey Oswald was shot, and when that happened you started feeling like the world was coming apart."

John F. Kennedy's family connection to Bronxville is well known. During the 1930s, they lived in a big home just off Pondfield where Crown Circle and Crampton Road are today.

Janet Johnson, the Bronxville mother of four who would serve as a chaperone on the middle school Williamsburg trip in 1963, had moved to the village in 1919 as a two-year-old. She met JFK at various holiday parties when they were both teenagers and he was home in Bronxville from boarding school. He didn't leave much of an impression on her back then except for his good looks.

But on the day of his death some 25 years later, she found herself in Williamsburg, Virginia, consoling very young Bronxville teenagers who were distraught that their president had been murdered. They piled into her hotel room that night, dozens at a time, to watch the news in black and white on the only TV available at the hotel.

Pictured here: John F. Kennedy.

 
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