NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- The Board of Education, with help from administrators, fielded questions about everything from school security and academics to the conditions of sidewalks near schools in the Board's first Town Hall meeting on Thursday evening.
Billed as the Back to School Kickoff, the meeting was the first in what will become a series of sessions offering community members the opportunity to address Board members directly about any concerns they may have. It was held in the Whitney M. Young Jr. Auditorium of New Rochelle High School.
"It was great to see community members come out and ask us such a wide range of questions," said Board President Jeffrey Hastie. "This is just the start of a series of meetings that will give residents many opportunities to talk with us about what's on their minds."
Residents asked questions about how variances are granted for students to attend schools outside their attendance zone, how New Rochelle High School's closed campus is handled and what role the board plays in the hiring of administrators, among other questions.
Interim High School Principal Joseph Starvaggi, who opened the meeting with a presentation about new policies and practices at the school, said students are allowed in designated areas outside during their lunch breaks, and that the school has set aside indoor areas, including the auditorium, for other periods and for inclement weather.
Responding to other questions, Vice President Amy Moselhi encouraged residents to make use of the District's complaint tracking system for any issues with school buildings or grounds. Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Dr. Magda Parvey noted that administrators are considering a revised policy on homework that will come before the Board's Policy Committee.
They talked about the recommendation to hire an armed School Resource Officer for the high school - a suggestion about which community members are divided. Board member Christopher Daniello said that if an SRO is hired, "He or she should be coming in to build relationships and break down barriers."
They also explained the Board's School Buddy system, which assigns each member of the board to a different school to develop a relationship with the community by attending its events and meeting with its PTA.
"The goal is to have everyone on the Board become really familiar with our District," Hastie said.