Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

Pelham Examiner

No speakers at public hearing on school district budget; board vote on PMHS cell phone policy possible June 18


No one sought to speak Wednesday during the board of education’s state-mandated public hearing on its proposed $93.6 million budget, though seven citizens came to the mike during the separate public comment portion of the meeting to call on trustees to restore Latin to the curriculum.

The hearing was the board’s last official step before voters have their say May 21 on the spending plan, which would raise the tax levy 2.68%, less than the state-set cap. Also on the ballot will be a proposition to allow the replacement of the synthetic turf at the Glover Athletic Complex stadium, as well as four candidates seeking two, three-terms as school trustees.

On Latin, resident Peggy Nicholson, said, “As a former French teacher in this high school and a Latin teacher in Bedford, I really was saddened to learn that you are not going to have Latin again. Latin is a foundation for English, as you know, and it is not only for English language but also for writing. It is a valued language all throughout the globe, and here in Pelham it has been a valued subject and department for years. It is important to offer Latin not only for the students but for our reputation.”

The board discussed its ongoing review of Pelham Memorial High School’s cell phone policy.

Saying the dates are tentative, Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ told the trustees the goal is to hold a discussion on the new policy during the June 5 meeting with a vote on June 18. The latter would occur during the last meeting of the year for the current board.

“There wouldn’t be a ban but just clarity under what conditions are social and digital devices serving the academic purpose of the school,” said Board Vice President Ian Rowe, who sits on the board’s policy committee and has been a leader in the effort to change the mobile-phone rules.

Champ and Rowe did not provide additional details on what the policy will say, though throughout the process officials have pointed toward an increase in restrictions on high school students’ use of phones.

An April 24 email to PMHS students accompanying a survey on the subject said, “The main question being considered is whether the Pelham Memorial High School cell phone policy should mirror the Pelham Middle School cell phone policy.”

Pelham’s middle schoolers must keep their phones in their lockers all day.

The board’s policy committee held two informational meetings on cell phones in March, including a panel led by Rowe that featured three educators who all call for removing the devices from schools.

In his campaign statement for reelection, Rowe said warnings about phones from the U.S. surgeon general and the book “Anxious Genaration” show there is “overwhelming evidence that make a very compelling case to limit access to social media, sexting, cyber bullying, pornography, etc. and its primary delivery mechanism—cell phones—during the school day. Some may choose to ignore this evidence. But as board members, we have the responsibility to proactively consider how this research should inform policy and practice in Pelham, given that our kids and schools are not immune.”

During the board meeting, John Condon, director of facilities , said some school roofs are damaged and may have to be replaced. It is too early now for dollar estimates for the repairs, he said. A building condition study has not been done in nine years, which is out of step with New York State’s five-year cycle, but the study is now back on track, according to Condon.

School Board President Dr. Michael Owen-Michaane asked about the progress of repairs to a damaged piece of play equipment at Julianne’s Playground.

Condon and the district is waiting to see what the cost will be to repair the equipment, and if can’t be repaired, it will be replaced.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who spoke about the dates for the school board’s upcoming meetings on the cell phone policy.


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Charlotte Cohn, Assistant Managing Editor
My name is Charlotte Cohn, and I am a tenth-grader at Pelham Memorial High School. I love writing, listening to music, and dancing. I have been writing for the Pelham Examiner since 2019.

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