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Your Schools





A Message from the Board of Education Dear Hastings Community Member,



he school year is well under way, with Fall’s usual activities keeping everyone busy. All the back-to-school nights and teacher conferences have been held, the fall sports season has just ended, and Thanksgiving has come and gone. With the clocks turned back and our first snow storm marking an end to the fall mood, we’d like to update the community on the Board’s activities and priorities for this school year. It is the Board’s privilege and pleasure to have our Interim Superintendent Tim Connors with us for a second school year. In August, the board met with Mr. Connors to discuss our concerns and interests. During that discussion, we identified four main goals for this year. First, we will focus on long-term planning, for the budget generally and capital expenditures specifically. Last year, the District engaged an engineering firm to complete a five-year plan for our buildings and grounds. With that plan in hand, we will soon be Continued on page 3

Maureen Caraballo District Treasurer

This past June, Governor Cuomo signed into law a Property Tax Cap that takes effect with the 2012/2013 school budget. It targets growth in the tax levy, which is the total amount of money raised in property taxes. The law limits any year-to-year levy increase to a maximum of 2% or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. The Levy in our most recent school budget was approximately $35 million. In our next budget, the District can raise an additional $800,000 in taxes and be within the 2% cap.

So, does this mean that residents’ tax rates or tax bills are also capped at 2 percent? No, the cap only applies to the total tax levy. Individual property owners’ tax rates or payments will vary based on changes in individual assessments, the overall tax role value, as well as STAR payments.

Are there exemptions to the cap? Yes. The exemption with the greatest impact on our school district is for contributions to New York State’s pension systems. Increases to the employer contribution rate – set by the State each year – that exceed 2 percentage points, are exempted and those payments can be added to the tax levy. There are also exemptions for large court or tort payments and voter-approved capital expenditures. An allowance is also made for growth in the tax base to recognize the impact of new construction and/or renovations that increase the total assessed value of property in the District. Continued on page 2

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Hillside Elementary ATTEMPTS JUMPING JACKS WORLD RECORD On October 12, 544 Hillside students participated in the Let's Jump initiative to break the Guinness World Record for the most people doing jumping jacks. The event was organized by National Geographic Kids magazine and First Lady Michelle Obama and iss part of a campaign that encourages kidss and he new families to get healthy and active. To set the record, more than 20,425 people needed to perform jumping jacks for one minute during a 24-hour ned yet, period. All though it has not been determined ormed estimations of 20,500 people performed veral jumping jacks for one minute at several ith locations across the world. Hopefully with Hillside's help the record will be shattered.

Author James Howe visits FARRAGUT MIDDLE SCHOOL Local author James Howe made his regular visit to Ms. Duquette’s language arts classes this past spring, surprising students with a reading from his novel, The Misfits. The book served as an “anchor text” throughout the class social justice unit.

During his visit, James presented the class with an anniversary copy of The Misfits. He also revealed that his latest book, Addie On The Inside, would soon be released. The students were able to participate in a question and answer session with the author, with some even having the opportunity to share original writing and receive his feedback. It was a truly wonderful experience for all involved.

Making sense of the Tax Cap Levy continued from page 1 Can voters override the tax levy cap? Yes. However, budgets that exceed the levy cap must receive at least 60% of the vote. Budgets with levy changes under the cap can be approved with a simple 50% majority. Note that a vote to exceed the cap applies only to a single budget. Districts cannot permanently opt out of the tax cap.

What happens if the presented budget is defeated? If the proposed budget is not approved by the required majority, the Board may submit the same or a revised budget for another vote. If this budget is not approved, then the district cannot increase the tax levy from the previous year at all – essentially a 0% cap. 2 • YO U R S C H O O L S • H A S T I N G S - O N - H U D S O N U N I O N F R E E S C H O O L D I S T R I C T • N OV E M B E R 2 0 1 1


Board’s Message . . . continued from page 1 forming a group, hopefully including some residents with expertise in architecture and/or engineering, to prioritize the projects according to need and expense. The tax levy cap legislation enacted last June will certainly constrain revenues for the district. The Finance Committee will therefore focus on controlling expenditures and looking for additional opportunities to share services. In November, we will be meeting with the superintendents and some board members from the other quad-villages to discuss joint projects as well as the possibility of applying for a grant to evaluate consolidation of some or all districts. Second, we will continue to work Continued on page 4

The Advanced Placement (AP) program is a curriculum in the United States and Canada sponsored by the College Board that offers standardized courses to high school students that are generally recognized to be equivalent to undergraduate college courses. Participating colleges grant credit to students who obtained high enough scores on the exams to qualify. Hastings High School has an open enrollment policy on all honors and college level courses. Total Stude nts = 1 7 4 Ex ams W r i tte n = 3 1 5 N umbe r o f S tude nts at L eve l 3 , 4 o r 5 = 2 7 9 Perce ntage at L eve l 3 , 4 o r 5 = 8 9 %







Exams Written






Hastings Percent score 3 or higher






New York Percent score 3 or higher






Global Percent score 3 or higher






Farragut Middle School SIXTH GRADE TRIP TO THE SHARPE RESERVATION On October 25th, the sixth grade visited the Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, NY. This site is run by the Fresh Air Fund and provides opportunities for students to engage in team-building/challenge activities while being outdoors on a beautiful fall day. Students worked in small groups facilitated by Reservation staff and accompanied by a team teacher. They were presented with a physical challenge (swinging between two platforms, climbing a wall, moving in unison on a log, etc.) that had to be completed by every member of the group. Doing so required cooperation, leadership, creative problem solving and smart risk taking. Many challenges were difficult, but there was a great sense of accomplishment when they were overcome. We hope that students will apply these skills to the classroom setting as well. The sixth grade is looking forward to their upcoming annual Senior Friends Day on November 23rd. Information and a copy of the invitation is available on the sixth grade team page, which can be found on the District website.

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Hillside Elementary


After a one day delay due to snow, students and staff arrived at school in costume to enjoy the annual Hillside Halloween parade. Parents and community members arrived at 9:30 to witness the numerous outfits. Various costumes, including superheroes, cartoon characters, monsters and villains were on display as students and staffed marched from the front entrance of the building to the end of the parking lot.

Hastings High School CROSSING BORDERS Students from the Crossing Borders program in Hastings High School and the Leadership Institute from the South Bronx held a car wash to raise funds for this year's activities. They raised over a thousand dollars, in addition to getting soaking wet and learning more about each other in the process! The Crossing Borders program is entering its third year and has over forty members in the high school. The program is dedicated to bringing Hastings students in contact with others students from around the tri-state area who have grown up in circumstances that may be very different than their own. The program fosters leadership and interpersonal communication. This year, they are planning to work with members of the Kingsbridge Youth Community Center in the Bronx as well as their long-term partners from the Leadership Institute.

Board’s Message . . . continued from page 3 on improving communication with the public. We requested that the District Clerk create a one-stop shop for signing up for district emails, which you can now do through the school’s website. As issues or topics arise during the year we may also substitute work sessions for our business meeting format, which can provide more opportunity for question and answer. We also intend to convene the Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee again this year. Third, we have requested that the Boards Curriculum and Instruction Committee examine the District’s status and goals for writing, kindergarten curriculum, world language offerings, use of technology in classrooms, our middle school organization model, depth of our science program, and the integration of service learning. Continued on page 7

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HASTINGS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION STATISTICS Graduation Rate 4-year colleges 2-year colleges Employment Military Undecided Gap year

2007 98% 85% 8% 2% 0% 3% 2%

2008 98% 85% 10% 1% 0% 2% 2%

2009 98% 85% 11% 3% 0% 0% 1%

WHO'S NEW 2010 97% 85% 11% 3% 0% 0% 1%

2011 97% 86% 10% 1% 2% 1% 0%

Jim Boylan Hillside Assistant Principal

MAKING STRIDES AGAINST BREAST CANCER WALK The Hastings Teachers' Association sponsored a team in the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk held on October 16th at Manhattanville College. The HTA along with teacher associations from thirty other districts in the Westchester area walked and raised money to help find a cure for breast cancer. Over 15,000 people participated in the event. The HTA raised over $4000 that will save lives by helping people stay well and get well, by finding cures, and by fighting back against breast cancer. The HTA remains committed to going above and beyond in their efforts to create a world with less breast cancer. The leading fundraiser from each school has been given a reserved parking spot in each school's parking lot. Donations can still be made at goto/HastingsTA

Jacklyn Snavely Special Education

Jessica Morocco Speech

HTA Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Team Nate Morgan, Robyn Royal-Horn, Lori Mackay, Robin Farrell, Melissa Otivich, Ross Abrams, Joan Felipe, Suzanne Vaccaro, Stephanie Gould, Sandy Lutzker, Rosanne Cirasella, and Andrea Devarie.

Tara Cammarata 3rd Grade

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A Day in the Life of the Hudson On Tuesday, October 18th, students in the AP Environmental Science classes participated in “A Day in the Life of the Hudson River.” This event, hosted by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program in partnership with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, and Cornell’s NYS Water Resource Institute, helps prepare students to become stewards of the river’s water

quality and natural resources. This is the first year Hastings students have participated in the annual event. At more than sixty locations from New York City up to Troy, NY, students and community members examined physical and chemical aspects of the river, such as where freshwater runoff and salty seawater meet, and the amount of sediment in the water. The data that students collected will

become part of a database that can be accessed for future use. Beyond just a field trip, a “Day in the Life” allows students to collect firsthand information about their communities’ natural resources, and explore how their piece of the river fits into the larger ecosystem. Students will be using the database to compare conditions in Hastings to another location on the Hudson tested that day.

Photographing Hastings Veterans

Kevin Ettinger Navy Air Corps 1954-55

Paul Karzura Army 1963-64

The Photo Club, in partnership with the Hastings Historical Society, is photographing portraits of Hastings veterans, in addition to interviewing each veteran, with the eventual possibility of a joint display or exhibit to celebrate the veterans in our community who spent time in the military in the service of their country. It has been an interesting experience for the students, as they learn about the draft, rank, and life in the military (we've had a reservist, a WW2 bomber crew member, an MP and a navy flyer so far). Part of the inquiry is to find out what the men and women who joined the military missed most about their home in Hastings. Several were graduates of HHS.

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Board’s Message . . . continued from page 4 We recognize that this is a lot to cover in one year, but, as of now, all of these items have been included in the committee’s agenda and we look forward to hearing their reports.

next couple of years, the District will also need to make sure that we integrate our curriculum with the Common Core Standards, a multi-state initiative with ties to federal funding. Along with the curriculum work, a Director of Curriculum and Instruction will provide support for teachers in method and materials. During the fall, the Superintendent and an interview committee met with several candidates. At a recent board meeting, Mr. Connors recommended that we fill the role as an internship, rather than as a permanent hire for this year. The Board agreed with this suggestion and we anticipate that a final selection will be made in the coming weeks.

Last year the Board and Superintendent had a number of conversations regarding the curriculum and instruction position. When it became clear that Mr. Connors would be staying with us for the current year, we decided to move ahead with finding someone to fill that role. The person in this position will focus on evaluation and alignment of our curriculum, both within a particular grade as well as the Finally, the Board will resume our progression from kindergarten search for a permanent superintenthrough high school. Over the dent and we are in the process of

establishing a schedule and process based on our experience last year. The core of the work will begin in January and we will keep you updated on our progress as we move along. Fall always brings a sense of renewal to the schools and we look forward to a terrific, challenging year. Fall also brings new routines, life gets busier, and you may feel rushed. So as a final note, please remember to drive carefully around our buildings, particularly at the beginning and end of the school day, when our students are coming and going in all directions. Let’s all stay safe and well.

The Hastings Board of Education

SPORTS HIGHLIGHTS 7 of our 8 Varsity teams qualified for the Sectional Tournament in their respective sports. INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING NOTABLES: Girls Varsity Volleyball

Girls Varsity Swimming

Girls Varsity Soccer

Regional Semi-finalists. Upsetting two teams to win the first Sectional title in recent history.

Qualified three individuals for Sectional competition.

Upset Valhalla in penalty kicks to move into the second round of sectionals.

HIGH SCHOOL: 43% of high school students participated in a Varsity or JV sport during the Fall season. MIDDLE SCHOOL: 52% of middle school students participated during the Fall season. N OV E M B E R 2 0 1 1 • H A S T I N G S - O N - H U D S O N U N I O N F R E E S C H O O L D I S T R I C T • YO U R S C H O O L S

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Take a look inside to see why Hastings Schools are a great place to be. SI G N U P F OR S CHOOL D ISTRI CT E- MAI L Wo uld you like to be notified of upcomi n g B o a rd o f E du c a ti o n m eet ings and other impor tant Boa rd- re l a te d n ew s? Would you like to know about upco m i n g sc h o o l p l ay s, spor t s even ts , concer ts and other f u n a n d i m p o r ta n t school related new s? I f t he answer is 'yes', then follow th e l i n k b e l ow to th e Hast ings- on- Hud son School District E - m a i l si g n - u p p a g e .

h t t p : / / w ww.has ting s .s it e 9 0 .com /em ail.h tm l


DECEMB ER 20 th 7t h and 8t h Gr ad e Wint er C oncer t HHS Aud. 7:00 p.m . DECEMB ER 2 2 nd Hast ings High S c h ool Wint er C oncer t HHS Aud. 7:00 p.m .



Timothy P. Connors, Superintendent of Schools B OARD OF EDUCATION 27 Farragut Avenue, Hastings-on-Hudson NY 10706 (914) 478-6200 B OA R D M E M B E R







Eileen Baecher, President (2012) 275-7318 Jodie Meyer, Vice President (2014) 478-0619 Caryn Campbell 674-8595


Lindsey Hicks 478-4973


Donna Laing 478-5788


Gabrielle Lesser 478-1718


Wendy Naidich 478-4146

(2013) T I M E - VA L U E M AT E R I A L

Resident Hastings-on-Hudson NY 10706

Your Schools - November 2011  

November 2011

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