School board revisits renaming Glover Field without decision, renews Champ’s contract for five years, accepts auditor’s report

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The Pelham Board of Education met for its second regular meeting of the new school year on Tuesday. Major items covered included the auditors’ report, the renewal of Superintendent Cheryl Champ’s contract for five years and discussion of the proposal to rename Glover Field.

On Sept. 4, the athletic fields committee met to discuss the question of renaming Glover in memory of the late Anthony Senerchia, a move left undecided at the end of last year. The board received significant input from the community in April and May on the pros and cons of the move (read that article here). Members of the committee discussed the idea, and were unable to reach a consensus. The committee meet again at a later date to reach a final decision.

The Pelham School District’s fiscal year, which ended June 30, was summarized in the independent auditors’ report by Chris Kopf of PFK O’Connor Davies. The report stated that the district ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus of $2.3 million. The majority of the district’s revenue comes in from property taxes, the newly increased county sales tax and state aid. The district received $200,000 more state aid than had been expected in the year.

Champ’s contract as superintendent was renewed for five more years, and board members expressed their support for Champ and her work.

Champ gave a update on the new sustainability program implemented in the district. The new changes include eliminating plastic bottles from the cafeterias, as well as using completely compostable utensils. The plastic water bottles have been replaced by cardboard water boxes, from the brand Boxed Water. In her report, Champ urged students to remember to bring their own reusable water bottles to school, as the new water is considerably pricier ($3 for a large and $1.50 for a small).

“When students are out of money by the end of the week which should have lasted them a month, it’s because they’re not bringing their water bottles,” Champ said.

Champ asked that all students inform their classmates and any visitors to bring reusable water bottles to the school, as there are many bottle-friendly water fountains around the school.

Head football coach Artie Viggiano has been selected as the New York Giants High School Coach of the Week, which will result in a $2,000 grant to the football program. Viggiano will be honored at a game in the near future.

The district kicked off the 2019-20 school year at maximum capacity with a count of 2,918 students and class sizes within the board guidelines. Interns are helping out in the largest classes, which board members agreed is extremely beneficial to students in those classes.

The strategic plan has been launched to all Pelham staff, including the new authentic learning initiative on which the board will be seeking feedback. District faculty have been completing online training modules on the topics of mental health awareness, sexual harassment and student data privacy, a new area of staff training. Faculty members have also been receiving safety training sessions concerning a new state required drill—shelter in place—in the case of a student or staff member needing emergency medical attention in a hallway of a school. The district will be completing the required eight fire drills and four lock-down drills, as well as a shelter in place and evacuation drill throughout the course of the school year.

The district hired a new Latin teacher, filling the vacancy left at the end of last school year. Matthew Couture teaches both Latin and Italian.

Filling the position was the “most difficult hiring process (he’s) ever been a part of,” said Dr. Steven Garcia, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and personnel.

The district has also hired a fourth psychologist in the elementary schools, which parents of students were reportedly excited to hear.

A crossing guard has been placed at the intersection at Four Corners, an area where there has never been one. Since this is an intersection of two highly trafficked streets, Boston Post Road and Pelhamdale Avenue, this crossing guard will provide a safer environment for southern Pelham residents who walk to school.

The next regular board meeting will be Sept. 24 at 8:15 p.m. in Alumni Hall, and the first board coffee is on Sept. 18 at 9 a.m. at JCafe.