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Eastchester Review to roll out new website

 

east-constructionThe website for The Eastchester Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version of our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new eastchesterreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

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City Review to roll out new website

 

NR-CONSTRUCTThe website for The City Review New Rochelle is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version rivaling our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new cityreviewnr.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

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Mamaroneck Review to roll out new website

 

mam-constructionThe website for The Mamaroneck Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version of our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new mamaroneckreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

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Harrison Review to roll out new website

 

hr-constructionThe website for The Harrison Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version of our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new harrisonreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company, we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.
All you have to do is stay tuned.
-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

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Rye City Review to roll out new website

 

rye--constructThe website for The Rye City Review is currently under construction and a new website is in the process of being created to provide viewers with an enhanced digital version rivaling our newspaper. This new website has been in the works for more than a month already and is set to launch, under the same domain name, in the coming weeks. The new ryecityreview.com promises to offer a fresh look, improved functionality and a uniqueness that has long been missing from our online presence. Speaking on behalf of the company,  we’re excited to put the old, archaic site to bed in favor of launching something new, fresh and worthy of complementing our traditional print product.

All you have to do is stay tuned.

-Christian Falcone, editor-in-chief

Rye councilwoman preps for state Senate run

Rye councilwoman preps City of Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican, plans on launching a campaign for state Senate. Killian will try to upend popular Democrat George Latimer. Both candidates live in the city of Rye. File photofor state Senate run

City of Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a Republican, plans on launching a campaign for state Senate. Killian will try to upend popular Democrat George Latimer. Both candidates live in the city of Rye. File photo

By CHRISTIAN FALCONE
Julie Killian, a city of Rye councilwoman, will try to do what no other Republican has been able to: beat George
Latimer.

Killian announced that she pl-
ans to seek the New York state Senate seat for the 37th District currently occupied by Latimer, a Democrat, at a Rye City Republican Committee meeting last month, the Review has learned. She is in her first full term on the Rye City Council and earlier this year was appointed deputy mayor. Killian, a mother of five, first joined the council in 2012 after being appointed to the seat following a vacancy.

Tony Sayegh, a political analyst for Fox News and News12 Westchester, said the 37th District, which stretches from the city of Yonkers north to the town of Bedford, is one of the Senate’s very few true swing districts in the state, meaning that either political party could wrestle control in a given election cycle. “It really requires somebody who is independent in some respects,” he said, adding that it’s also a very diverse district.

Sayegh, also a Republican strategist, has already been retained by the Killian camp as she prepares to officially launch her candidacy with an announcement expected on Friday, after press time. According to Sayegh, she has been listening to people’s issues and gaining a better understanding of the district.

“Julie is trying to understand all of the concerns and slowly we’ll be rolling out some of the solutions to those problems,” said Sayegh, adding that as far as a platform, it’s still too early for Killian to start talking specifics.

But the analyst said, based on her record of service, Killian is viewed as a problem solver. “She knows how to build consensus, she’s worked across the aisle [and] she has been a thoughtful leader in the realm of public policy,” he said.

Killian, 54, has been a member of the Westchester County Charter Revision Commission, a group established to recommend changes to the county charter, as well as New Yorkers for Growth, a PAC that promotes fiscally responsible policies in the state.

In Rye, she has served on the city Finance Committee, been a volunteer in the Rye school district, and a supporter of the Rye library, Rye Historical Society and Rye Arts Center. Her latest project was helping to launch an anti-drug coalition in Rye in 2015.

“Julie is a positive person, that is one thing that overwhelms you when you talk to her,” Sayegh said. “I imagine she will stand up for issues she believes are right and also draw a contrast where there is a difference of opinion.”

Conversely, Sayegh criticized Latimer by calling his record of bipartisanship hollow, adding that he has voted with the Democratic leadership more than 98 percent of the time. “He has aligned himself with the Bill DiBlasio New York City agenda,” he said, referring to the liberal mayor of New York City.

For Latimer, 62, the criticism is nothing new, as he seems to always be the target of state Republicans, who want to maintain control of the Senate. The senator told the Review that he has a bull’s-eye on his back.

“It’s because I don’t have personal wealth,” he said. “I have lived within my means. Given the fact that my salary as an elected official is all the income I have, that is not a lot of money in a place like Rye. It’s probably laughable to people [with] successful business careers. [Republicans] know they can always outspend me.”

But Latimer, who is seeking his third term in the Senate, said there is a reason why he has been consistently re-elected.

“I don’t think anyone has proven they care more about the people they represent than I do, day after day,” he said.

Latimer has never lost an election, winning 14 consecutive races dating back to his one term on the Rye City Council in 1987.

Killian’s campaign is likely to be well-financed with a high level of organization and full of support from some of the top Republicans throughout the state.

However, the last time the GOP put an all-out assault on Latimer, it backfired.

In 2012, with Latimer seeking the Senate seat following the retirement of longtime Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, a Democrat, the state Republicans ran Bob Cohen, who nearly defeated Oppenheimer just two years prior.

Many pundits predicted 2012 was Cohen’s time.

Cohen and Latimer battled it out before a statewide audience. The duo set the record for campaign expenditures in a state race at the time; the Cohen campaign spent more than $4 million on attack ads, including radio spots and TV commercials. But Latimer won the seat in surprisingly easy fashion, with 54 percent of the vote, and celebrated his hardest fought victory to date.

In 2014, Latimer defeated Republican Joe Dillon, a late entry who didn’t launch his campaign until July.

The district encompasses the cities of Yonkers, White Plains, New Rochelle and Rye; and the towns of Eastchester, Harrison, Mamaroneck, Rye, Bedford and North Castle.

Candidates are elected to the Senate for two-year terms with an annual base salary of $79,500.

Killian could not be reached for comment as of press time.

CONTACT: chris@hometwn.com

 
Sophie Miller, an 11th-grade member of Students for Senegal, hangs out with a group of middle schoolers in Lambaye. Group members say they feel like rock stars when they arrive at the village.

Senegal puts Mamaroneck High School on the map

Mamaroneck High School sophomores Colin Lavin, left, and Tim Sommer, far right, pose for a selfie with a trio of Cem Lambaye students. Just 30 students can be accommodated on the trip to Senegal. Photos courtesy Jamie Schiff

Mamaroneck High School sophomores Colin Lavin, left, and Tim Sommer, far right, pose for a selfie with a trio of Cem Lambaye students. Just 30 students can be accommodated on the trip to Senegal. Photos courtesy Jamie Schiff

By SARAH VARNEY
A few members of the Students for Senegal Club at Mamaroneck High School used to think that lions ran wild in the streets of the West African country of Senegal, but now that the organization has been around for four years, they know better. In this country, too, dangerous wild animals are kept in nature preserves far from populated areas.

While the distance between Senegal and Mamaroneck is about 4,000 miles, the gap has been bridged by AP Chemistry teacher Amary Sek, a Senegalese native who left his country 40 years ago.

Sek, who spearheads the high school club and its 24 members, recently traveled to the country over the winter holiday break to deliver books and other goodies. The club makes the trip to the village of Lambaye every two years, Sek, who grew up poor in the village, said.

Students for Senegal started out as a small club in 2009, and is now a separate nonprofit organization that strives to foster cross-cultural exchange and extend the gift of education to the people of Senegal, according to its website. Since its inception, the organization has raised more than $75,000 and has sent more than 30 preschoolers to school in Lambaye. The organization has also expanded chapters to Hommocks and Fieldston middle schools.

Students for Senegal evolved from the childhood stories Sek used to tell his students after school. Although Sek left Senegal years ago, his memories of growing up are fresh.

“I would tell [students] stories about how I grew up, how things were in my village,” he said. “More and more students would come and listen, and then one day a student came up with the idea to have a formal club.”

Since its inception, the club has undertaken numerous fundraisers and charity drives and has raised a total of $100,000 toward its goal of building a Learning Center for Lambaye. The Learning Center will have a women’s center, a preschool and a meeting room. The students organize all the fundraisers themselves, Sek said. Once a year, they hold a gala event as their biggest fundraiser.

Sophie Miller, an 11th-grade member of Students for Senegal, hangs out with a group of middle schoolers in Lambaye. Group members say they feel like rock stars when they arrive at the village.

Sophie Miller, an 11th-grade member of Students for Senegal, hangs out with a group of middle schoolers in Lambaye. Group members say they feel like rock stars when they arrive at the village.

Lambaye currently has a population of nearly 13,000, but Sek said economic conditions are not so different from the way they were when he was growing up there, and that the area is still quite poor.

Senegal is a country about the size of South Dakota, sandwiched between Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania and Mali, with a population of 13 million. A secular Muslim country, 52 percent of the population is under 19 years old, according to a 2013 census.

While the value of an education is understood in more populated areas of Senegal, such as Dakar, the capital city, the message has been slower to trickle down to more rural areas like Lambaye, Sek said.

It is common for fathers to take one or more of his children away from a home village to the city to become street vendors. “There is an exodus of many of the men,” Sek added. “They are leaving their wives and kids behind and often they are not given support.”

Like many African countries, the culture is warmly receptive to visitors. “They are honored when someone comes to visit. They make lots of food; there is dancing. It is a very big deal,” Sek said.

Jamie Schiff, a senior member of Students for Senegal, bears out Sek. “Their [Senegalese hosts’] welcoming attitude and the way in which they received us was like nothing we’d ever experienced before,” she said.

Students for Senegal has donated thousands of books in both English and French, Senegal’s official language, and have founded a small library at the school.

The Students for Senegal Club gathers beneath its logo. The club at Mamaroneck High School currently has about 40 members. Photo/Sarah Varney

The Students for Senegal Club gathers beneath its logo. The club at Mamaroneck High School currently has about 40 members. Photo/Sarah Varney

One of Sek’s stories fostered “Smiles for Senegal,” a 2015 drive that collected hundreds of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste for their peer students in Lambaye. When Sek mentioned using a stick as dental floss, the Students for Senegal Club discussed how to promote dental health in the country.

Since the club’s involvement with the students at Cem Lambaye, the passing rate for students taking the critical exam that enables them to move on to high school has increased from 30 percent to 70 percent.

Mamaroneck High School students in the Students for Senegal Club benefit from their involvement as well. “You can see your efforts pay off firsthand,” junior Molly Nodiff said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
ryebball1333

Rye rolls in regionals

 

Madeline Eck drives to the hoop against Saugerties on March 1. Eck scored 23 points in Rye’s 57-37 win.

Madeline Eck drives to the hoop against Saugerties on March 1. Eck scored 23 points in Rye’s 57-37 win.

Taylor Maurer brings the ball up the floor against the Sawyers. Photos/Mike Smith

Taylor Maurer brings the ball up the floor against the Sawyers. Photos/Mike Smith

Katie Popp hits a jumper on March 1. Popp battled a stomach bug on Tuesday, but still scored 16 points off the bench.

Katie Popp hits a jumper on March 1. Popp battled a stomach bug on Tuesday, but still scored 16 points off the bench.

By MIKE SMITH
Rye fans who traveled to the Westchester County Center were in for something of a surprise on Tuesday, March 1, when the Garnets’ starting five was announced and Katie Popp wasn’t in it. But despite not having the junior standout at 100 percent, the Garnets hardly missed a beat, blasting Saugerties to win the regional semifinal game 57-37 in impressive fashion.

Popp, who led the Garnets to their first sectional championship in 11 years last weekend, was battling a stomach bug that threatened to keep her out of action on Tuesday, but provided a lift off the bench, scoring 16 points against an overmatched Sawyers squad. Senior point guard Taylor Maurer, who picked up the slack in Popp’s early-game absence, scored nine of the Garnets’ first 16 points on the night. According to Maurer, the Garnets didn’t have a real idea of how much the ailing Popp would be able to contribute and had to adjust their expectations accordingly.

“We didn’t know what was happening until we got on the bus to come to the game,” Maurer said. “But we knew that we were all going to have to pick up a lot of the slack, offensively and that we were going to have to step up and make plays.”

Madeline Eck, Rye’s other 1,000-point scorer, finished with a game-high 23 points and helped the Garnets take control in the second quarter, as they outscored the Sawyers 15-3 to open a 28-13 lead by halftime.

“We thought it was going to be closer,” Eck said. “But it was still a tough game, especially in that first quarter.”

Maurer attributes the Garnets’ success to a good game plan put in place by head coach Dennis Hurlie during the team’s Monday practice.

“We had scouted them, so we knew what holes in their defense we could attack,” Maurer said. “Everyone just stepped up and contributed.”

With the win, the Garnets (21-4) advance to the regional finals, where they will take on Vestal at SUNY Cortland on March 5. The winner earns a berth in the New York State Semifinals, which will be played at Hudson Valley Community College.

According to Maurer, Rye’s performance against Saugerties should provide a blueprint for success over length of the push towards states.

“I think we proved that we have a lot of weapons and that we’re a versatile team,” Maurer said. “Any one of our five players on the court can make plays, and that means a lot.”

Contact: sports@hometwn.com  

The Rye Police Department arrested a 17-year-old Rye High School senior on March 23 for allegedly writing a bomb threat on the bathroom walls of the high school earlier this month. File photo

Proposed school district budget to use $2.5M in reserves

glanceBy SARAH VARNEY
Despite the essentially flat tax cap for the 2016-2017 budget year, the Rye City School District superintendent presented a proposed budget on Feb. 9 that is balanced, thanks to the use of $2.5 million from the reserve fund.

Under this year’s state tax cap, schools are limited to increasing upcoming budgets by 0.12 percent. Statewide, school districts are struggling to accommodate the tax cap, which is tied to the inflation rate and not 2 percent. The tax cap law mandates either a 2 percent tax cap on either the allowable tax levy for municipal and school budgets or the rate of inflation,whichever is lower. This year, the rate of inflation is just 0.07 percent.

The draft budget calls for $85 million in spending, compared to the current budget, which is $83 million.  The estimated tax levy increase is 1 percent.

The reserve fund currently stands at approximately $10.2 million, which is 12 percent
of the 2015-2016 total $82.8 million budget. With the use of $2.5 million for the 2016-2017 budget, the fund reserve would decrease to $7.7 million, about 9 percent of the total $85 million proposed budget. Generally, in order to qualify for an AAA bond rating, a district’s reserves is supposed to be around 10 percent of a district’s total budget.

The proposed budget will preserve the current school program, add both a part-time math teacher and a part-time Spanish teacher and will continue the writing mentor program for grades 10 through 12. It will also add a full-time Project Lead the Way instructor for the high school science, technology,
engineering and math, STEM, curriculum.

Project Lead The Way provides a standardized curriculum for some STEM classes. Both STEM and Project Lead The Way are programs under the umbrella of the federal Race to the Top initiative, which was funded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The goal of the STEM program is to add classes in math, science and computer technology to high school curricula and to encourage students to pursue careers in these fields.

Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez said the proposed budget is solid. “My main assumption was to have no cuts and that we keep to our promise not to go over the [tax] cap,” he said.

Board of Education President Katy Keohane Glassberg characterized the proposed budget as an attempt to maintain the program and make improvements with very little additional money.

While the community is likely to meet news of the balanced budget with some relief, the use of a higher amount of reserve funds is just as likely to cause consternation for some Rye residents.

Jim Culyer, a longtime resident and former school board president, expressed disappointment at news of the higher reserve fund figure for the proposed budget.

“In my opinion, the Board of Education is going in the wrong direction,” he said. “Fund balance needs to be preserved not used to balance the operating budget. I really believe that the current tax cap legislation is
just wrong.”

Other board members had more sobering news.

Board members Karen Belanger and Chris Repetto brought up the possibly of another override vote for the 2017-2018 school budget.

On May 19, 2015, the Rye community passed the current  budget that exceeded the 2 percent tax cap, totaling a 4.43 percent override, with support totaling 70 percent of the vote. An override requires a 60 percent majority of the voting public.

“We need to start talking openly about an override for next year,” Belanger said. “We’re getting to the point where the reserves are at a much more worrisome level.”

But it’s possible that the funding situation might change for the better in the next few years as well, district officials said. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has hinted at increasing state aid over the next few years. There is also talk of adjusting the 2 percent tax cap to a true 2 percent cap without the current formula that decreases it to less than that level in nearly every district.

There also may be more state aid on the way if the throttle on Gap Elimination Adjustment, GEA, funds either eases or is released. Passed in 2011, the “emergency” one-year formula decreases aid using a formula that decreases funding for all districts. Some districts are “owed” as much as $3 million in GEA funds. The adjustment has been in place for five years.

“Right now, there are a lot of ifs,” said Sarah Derman, the school district’s chief information officer. “Things could get better. It’s too soon to tell.”

On March 8, the school board will host an open topics forum for the community; budget adoption is set for the April 12 meeting and the public vote is scheduled for May 17.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com

 
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward, right, begins her presentation entitled “Systems Challenge Update” with a mention of Eric Jensen’s 2009 book “Teaching With Poverty in Mind,” which emphasizes enrichment instead of just remediation for low-income students. Photo/Sarah Varney

Income inequality hits Mamaroneck schools hard

 

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward, right, begins her presentation entitled “Systems Challenge Update” with a mention of Eric Jensen’s 2009 book “Teaching With Poverty in Mind,” which emphasizes enrichment instead of just remediation for low-income students. Photo/Sarah Varney

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward, right, begins her presentation entitled “Systems Challenge Update” with a mention of Eric Jensen’s 2009 book “Teaching With Poverty in Mind,” which emphasizes enrichment instead of just remediation for low-income students. Photo/Sarah Varney

By SARAH VARNEY
A mid-year report delivered at the Feb. 23 Mamaroneck Board of Education meeting revealed that a new approach instituted in September 2015 aimed at raising grades and test scores for the district’s approximately 900 students living in poverty is showing some signs of progress, particularly with the Hommocks Middle School’s Opportunity Plus group.

The problem of closing the increasing gap between a growing population of low-income students and the downward trend in their test scores and grades is a complex one that has plagued educators for decades, Mamaroneck’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Annie Ward said. “We have families with $10 million houses on the sound, but we also have several hundred homeless students,” she said.

The rate at which children from wealthier backgrounds succeed and their level of success academically forms a gap between them and the increasing number of low-income students who are not succeeding and in fact are doing worse in the classroom, Ward added.

New technology enables administrators to sift through student data on a more granular level so it’s easier to find the kids who need help and makes it easier to track and project academic performance.

Since September, the district has strategized with administrators and teachers to use very specific helping methods with individual students. “Enrichment” instead of “remediation” is the new focus.

The theory is that low-income students who gain confidence and feel comfortable in the school community can ultimately do well in classes, Ward added.

At each of the district’s four elementary schools and the middle school, there are small groups of smart, low-income students chosen for this kind of attention.

That attention takes many forms and has led teachers to find unexpected barriers for low-income students. For example, a trip to the Mamaroneck Public Library revealed that many of the low-income students’ library cards had been frozen from overdue fines or missing books. “That was something that we didn’t even know happened,” Ward said. Teachers worked with library personnel to fix the problem.

Other teachers have found that lack of Internet access at home and even finding time to do homework in the face of family responsibilities can impede academic success.

In one instance, a child at Mamaroneck Avenue School acted up right before recess after the only snow storm of the season. “He had never played in snow before and he knew he wouldn’t be allowed outside without the proper clothing,” Mamaroneck Avenue School Principal Carrie Amon said.

School staff were able to find snow pants and boots and the child was allowed outside.

Amon also recounted a Sunday trip to Fordham University with some of her low-income fourth- and fifth-graders, led by administrators and teachers. The children, who were part of the Mamaroneck Avenue School Amazings group, watched a basketball game, met the Fordham players and toured the locker room along with the campus.

“We’re trying to give them the opportunity to experience things that they might not usually be able to,” Amon said.

At Hommocks Middle School, Assistant Principal Rob Andrews oversees a group of 32 low-income students encouraged to join on the basis of their grit, leadership potential and intelligence. Using enrichment activities such as trips to local colleges and exclusive study and tutoring sessions, some students in the group raised their grades in core subjects by as many as 15 points. In addition, 24 of the 32 students in the Opportunity Plus program have perfect attendance records.

“Our early data is indicating progress,” Andrews said.

CONTACT: sarah@hometwn.com