On this page, we will provide answers to reoccurring questions, concerns or issues received by email from community members throughout the school year. The Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Robert Shaps, will use the Board of Education's regular meetings as an opportunity to provide these questions and answers -- with the idea that when multiple people ask the same question, the answer is most likely relevant to the broader community. As always, we appreciate our community's involvement and interest in our schools.
- What is the progress of the Enrollment Task Force?
- What is the status of teacher negotiations?
- Can installation of air conditioning in all spaces be considered for this bond?
- What is the difference between "greeters" and the new security personnel?
- What goes into Principal hiring decisions? Why has the District been hiring internally recently and promoting APs to the Principal position?
- How does the District support new administrators?
Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaps provided an update to the community on the work of the Enrollment Planning Task Force at the January 8, 2019 Board of Education meeting. See his PowerPoint presentation here.
The following letter was sent to the community on January 3, 2019:
Dear Community Members,
Welcome to 2019! We hope you had a nice holiday with time to relax and enjoy family and friends.
As we begin this new year, we are pleased to announce that on December 19th the District and the Mamaroneck Teachers' Association reached an agreement on the terms of a new contract. Both parties worked hard to deliver a fair and equitable agreement for our teachers that is fiscally responsible to our taxpayers and maintains the outstanding educational program the community has come to expect.
The Mamaroneck Board of Education would like to thank the MTA negotiating team for its hard work and commitment to come to an agreement that meets the needs of both parties. Additionally, we appreciate the dedication of Dr. Shaps, who served as the lead negotiator, and our District administrators, Carol Priore and Sylvia Fassler-Wallach, who worked beside him.
Details of the settlement remain confidential until the agreement is ratified by the parties. This will occur no later than thirty working days from December 19th.
As always, we appreciate the opportunity to serve the community. Our best wishes for a wonderful 2019!
Mamaroneck USFD Board of Education
Steve Warner, President
}aul Bulova, Vice President
Gladys Di Vito
In response to parent emails, the Board of Education and Superintendent asked LAN Associates to explore the cost of installing air conditioning in all District spaces as part of the capital bond recommendations. LAN's calculated costs for air conditioning in all buildings came to $60.4 million, an amount equal to more than the entire amount of the recommended capital bond. Knowing that classrooms can be uncomfortable on hot days and potentially impact student learning, the Board also asked administration to look into the number of school days over the past five years that have included 85 degree+ conditions. In the past five years, the average number of school days 85 degrees and above was 7.4, and the average number of school days included in that number that were 90 degrees or above was 2.
With the exception of Murray Ave. and Chatsworth Ave. schools, each of the District's schools currently have air conditioned areas that can accommodate a larger number of students. To ensure that larger air conditioned spaces are available in each of its schools, the current capital bond proposal includes air conditioning for auditoriums in both Chatsworth Ave. school and Murray Ave. school. Installation of air conditioning in these spaces was determined more cost-effective than just replacing the air handling units that are currently at the end of their life cycle.
Our new security personnel is employed by Summit Security, a firm that has been providing security for more than 40 years and works with school districts such as Scarsdale, Eastchester, Chappaqua, Bedford, Bronxville, Dobbs Ferry and area colleges, including Princeton, Columbia Fordham, and CUNY. The firm hires many retired or former military and law enforcement professionals, and the individuals are trained in following security protocol; their sole responsibility is to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Our emphasis is on securing the school perimeter, coordinating response with local law enforcement, and limiting building access. We see this change as one that will help strengthen the security at all of our schools.
The Mamaroneck School District advertises all administrative vacancies nationally and regionally and works with consultants who are familiar with our district to identify and recruit the most qualified candidates. Similar to many other prominent area districts, our district in recent years has promoted from within following comprehensive nationwide searches that have been led by search groups consisting of administrators, teachers and community members.
Typically, out-of-state candidates consist of beginning administrators or retired administrators since NY State has a closed pension system, which means that experienced administrators’ prior service and pensions are not eligible for transfer to New York. In-state candidates must go through a “probationary period” if they are appointed. Giving up a tenured position for a new district is uncommon, particularly if one is currently working in a high-performing district. Additionally, many candidates are reluctant to engage in the search process since ultimately the news becomes public, and if they do not end up getting an offer, it becomes politically problematic.
Thankfully, given our reputation, we do see high interest in our administrative vacancies. Almost all of our probationary principal searches have included experienced principals. We look for candidates who have demonstrated strong instructional leadership, advocacy for children and systems-thinking -- individuals who we feel confident will grow as building leaders.
Unlike most school systems, we offer our administrators year-round (12-month) professional development. In Mamaroneck, we invest in and grow leaders and hold them accountable, evaluating them carefully with ongoing support. It is worthwhile to call attention to the track record of Dr. Shaps: In his 16 years as Superintendent, he has successfully hired nearly 20 principals (and many assistant principals) who continue to lead and serve with distinction. We are grateful for the strong group of building leaders we currently have in place. Read PowerPoint presentation delivered by Dr. Shaps at Sept. 25, 2018 Board of Education meeting: Leadership, Supervision & Evaluation of Administrators.