School board reviews goals for year, Siwanoy safety concern, delay in PSAT scores


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Siwanoy path at Pelhamdale Avenue.

With the midway point of the school year approaching, the Pelham Board of Education began its budget season and a re-assessment of goals for the year during its meeting Wednesday.

President Dr. Michael Owen-Michaane addressed the first goal of the board: Redefining Pelham’s “standard of excellence.”

“My personal take away from the recent work session was that excellence in Pelham means continued progress, growth and improvement for each individual student,” Owen-Michaane said. “The board will continue to consider the feedback that we received about excellence and discuss that as we develop our budget for next year.” 

Owen-Michaane announced the board would move up public comment to an earlier time after receiving a request from a member of the public because the closed-door executive session that started the meeting ran long.

During public comment, Michael O’Hara of 474 Siwanoy Place, said, “There have been a couple of instances of drivers traversing the Siwanoy path.” He said his daughter was walking home from Siwanoy Elementary School and witnessed a car on Pelhamdale Avenue hop the curve without slowing down. “I am asking the board to consider investment in either a gate or a barrier,” said O’Hara. 

Both Owen-Michaane and Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ responded to the comment, despite the board’s previously stated practice of not providing feedback to the public during meetings.

“I think that is something we can consider in the safety committee or the facilities committee perhaps,” said Owen-Michaane.

“We are meeting with the Pelham Manor Police Department very soon, and we are going to talk to them about the recommendations for that spot,” Champ said. 

Champ also reviewed the recent parent and student frustration with the delay in the release of PSAT scores. In December, the College Board, which runs the test, refused to send out the PSAT results to Pelham students because the wrong exam had been administered by the district in October.

“We know that a lot of people were frustrated about the communication,” Champ said. “Working with the College Board, they were very clear on needing to run their process, and they didn’t want our communication to interfere with that process.” Champ said the delay in releasing the scores will have a negligible impact on students for the remainder of their high school careers. 

Champ gave an update on the proposals for a communications audit requested by the board. “The costs came in higher than we had anticipated,” she said. 

Trustee Will Treves said, “I think that pretty much everyone in this community agrees that what the district communicates, the channels through which it communicates it and the frequency of communication is something that we all want to optimize.” He said the audit would be a good investment of the district’s money. 

The next school board meeting will be held on Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. in the Pelham Middle School library, unless it starts with an executive session beforehand.