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Published by Halston Media, 2021-01-06 17:06:06

Yorktown News 01.07.21

Vol. 9 No. 42 Visit for the latest news. Thursday, January 7, 2021

Lakeland struggles to fill Veterans Road
staffing vacancies construction underway

Expected to last 10-12 weeks

District pauses in-person learning until Jan. 19


BY BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER front of this,” Cosgrove said. positions, so they’re teaching an A portion of Veterans Road
EDITOR Un lled positions include extra class on top of their own
class.” closed on Monday, Jan. 4—for a
Sta ng shortages, rising those of bus drivers/bus moni-
COVID-19 cases and fewer in- tors, a business manager, a busi- Exacerbating the issue is the maximum of 12 weeks—as a con-
person learners all factored into ness teacher, cleaners/custodial shortage of substitute teachers,
the Lakeland Central School workers, a communications di- Cosgrove said. Both this year tractor works to replace a deterio-
District’s decision to institute rector, food service helpers, a and last year, Lakeland was able
a holiday “pause” on in-person library media specialist, school to ll 77 percent of its substitute rated culvert.
learning from Dec. 17 to Jan. 19. bus mechanics (needed “desper- vacancies. But the situation has
ately”), school monitors (needed worsened as the year has pro- “Once the road is closed, the
e district has su ered many “even more desperately”), special gressed. October went from a
pandemic-related vacancies, Dr. education teachers, substitute 69 percent ll rate in 2019 to 50 contractor will have 10-12 weeks
Tammy Cosgrove, assistant su- teachers, a secretary to a school percent in 2020, and November
perintendent for human resourc- principal, teacher aides and went from 68 percent in 2019 to to complete the work and get the
es, said at the Dec. 10 Board of teaching assistants. 39 percent in 2020.
Education meeting. Since the road reopened,” Town Engineer
start of the school year, there “It’s very di cult to operate “ e pool is really shrinking”
were 99 leaves of absence, 41 with that level of sta ng” vacan- for myriad reasons, Cosgrove Michael Quinn said at the Dec. construction; however, motorists
resignations and 14 retirements. cies, Cosgrove said. said. Some substitute teachers
Lakeland made 113 new hires; are taking full-time jobs while 22 Town Board meeting. He said coming o of Route 35 will not
however, 22 of those were for To help ll the sta ng gap, others are sitting this year out.
newly created positions, which Lakeland is employing more in- he is hoping the job will be com- be able to access Veterans Road
means the district has about 63 terns, allowed school bus moni- With active COVID-19 cases
vacancies. tors to work in the school build- on the rise locally—431 in Yor- pleted ahead of schedule. from Greenwood Street.
ings between runs, and asked ktown and 358 in Cortlandt as
Not only has it been challeng- teachers to take on additional of Jan. 4—more families are opt- e new culvert—a small ree years ago, the town re-
ing to nd quali ed candidates, assignments. ing for remote learning, said Dr.
Cosgrove said, but hiring is a Karen Gagliardi, assistant super- channel that allows water to ow ceived two grants from the New
lengthy process, particularly if “You’ve heard our teachers intendent for instruction.
a sta member is coming from are stressed, I believe, in teach- underneath a road—is made of York State Department of Trans-
another school district, to which ing their own assignments,” In November, the ratio of in-
notice must be given. Cosgrove said, “but these pro- person and remote learners to precast concrete and will replace portation to repair two culverts:
fessionals have actually taken fully remote learners was 3,878
“We’re never going to be in on an extra class because we’ve the two corrugated metal pipes a 95-percent reimbursable $2.6
been unable to ll some teaching SEE LAKELAND PAGE 2
that currently run underneath million grant for Hill Boulevard

Veterans Road. and a 100-percent reimbursable

“ ose pipes are in extremely $820,000 grant for Veterans Road.

poor condition,” Quinn said. e In September, the Town

new culvert, he added, is expected Board awarded the contracts to

to have a 75-year life. “We antici- Transit Construction for about

pate that this will last a generation $2,995,000 ($2,176,166 for Hill

or two.” and $818,833 for Veterans).

e culvert is located at the end e work on Hill Boulevard,

of Veterans Road, where it inter- which is more involved, is slated

sects with Greenwood Street and to begin the rst week of Febru-

Northmore Drive. Solaris Sports ary, Quinn said. e contractor

Club will still be accessible during must nish the job by May.

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Page 2 – Yorktown News Thursday, January 7, 2021

LAKELAND “super-spreader” events. Vincent Xavier, a Cort-
e break was not a school landt resident, said the meeting Staffing Shortage
board decision, but the trustees should have been live-streamed

to 1,680. In December, it was mostly agreed with the call. online so parents could watch in • 154 vacancies (99 leaves, 41 resignations,

3,405 to 2,152, with most of “As hard as it is to do this, and real time. e district, he said, 14 retirements)
the change coming at the sec- it really does break my heart to also did a poor job of letting the
• 113 new hires
ondary levels. Because Lake- not have the kids go to school, community know this informa-

land divides its hybrid learners but I just don’t think we have tion was going to be discussed at Substitute Fill Rate
into two cohorts, each attend- a choice, and it would be irre- the meeting.

ing school on separate days, sponsible to not take the recom- “I believe that you as a board • September: 77 percent (2019), 77 percent (2020)
remote students are starting to mendations of the professional are both failing to meet your

outnumber in-person students. people,” said trustee Karen stated responsibility and to fur- • October: 69 percent (2019), 50 percent (2020)

Lakeland’s model has teachers Pressman. ther your stated goals by not • November: 68 percent (2019), 39 percent (2020)

simultaneously teaching in-per- Michael Daly, the school demanding a public meeting

son and remote learners. board president, said he was with the superintendent [where] Hybrid vs. Remote

“In some classes, the numbers swayed by the presentations. parents can ask questions and

on screen are greater than those However, he argued for a return expect answers,” Xavier said. • November: 3,878 vs. 1,680
in the building,” said Gagliardi. to school on Jan. 11 as opposed Mohegan Lake resident Yele-
• December: 3,405 vs. 2,152
Gagliardi, a former princi- to Jan. 19. na Zack, who is a medical pro-

pal at Lakeland’s omas Jef- “I walked in here tonight and fessional, said she is hearing too (as of Dec. 10)
ferson Elementary School, said I was ready to ght” to keep many excuses from the district.

she noticed 16 new faces at the schools open, Daly said. “And “Our hospitals are seeing

school when she visited last then I hear the experts and I see more and more patients. I can’t

month. the data, and some things, they turn around and say, ‘Don’t come bers were shared at the meeting: cial/emotional support for stu-

“Students may not even know jump right out to me… at’s to me; I don’t have some nurses,’ • 64.2 percent said the hybrid dents

who they have instructing them not the learning environment ” Zack said. “We have to gure learning model is working for • 78 percent said the district is

on any given day,” she said. “No we want for our children. it out. e school district has them not providing adequate social/

fault of anyone; it’s just our very “When we have the risk that known that this was going to be • 36.8 percent said they are emotional support for teachers

best at putting someone in front we may not have enough me- happening. So, plans needed to able to utilize the available Trustees said the survey re-

of our students.” chanics to operate our buses have been put in place. technological resources sults were eye-opening.

safely, we have to stop and “Frankly, it’s not my job to • 30 percent said they can “We’re asking them to go

TAKING A BREAK pause and say, ‘What are we do- gure it out,” Zack continued. provide adequate assessments above and beyond,” said trustee

Not only would the break al- ing?’ ” he added. “I need my child to be in school. of their students Robert Mayes. “We’re asking

low the district to catch up on e break was not universally She needs to be educated in real • 36 percent said they spend them to perform on one leg

sta ng issues, administrators supported. Two parents, speak- time; not by a computer.” 4-5 hours per day preparing with one hand tied behind their

said, it would provide separation ing at the school board meet- work for their students; 38 per- back.”

between in-person learning and ing, criticized the district for its STAFF SURVEY cent said they spend 2-3 hours But, he said, it’s not enough

the holidays, which have been decision-making and transpar- e results of a survey lled • 50 percent said the district to compliment their e orts.

described by health experts as ency. out by 286 Lakeland sta mem- is not providing adequate so- “We have to act.”

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Thursday, January 7, 2021 Yorktown News – Page 3

Happy aNndewMYaefnarryomTahlalnokfs us!

In 2021, we rededicate ourselves to thinking ‘local’

There is nothing quite like a crisis that concentrates their other loca- like most of you. And I admire all smart businesses,
the mind. including multi-billion-dollar ones. One of my favorite
In the past 17 years, about 1,700 weekly community PUBLISHER’S tions throughout Hollywood movies is “ e Social Network,” which
newspapers have shut down in the United States, ac- MEMO the region, includ- is about Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook,
cording to Poynter, an industry publication. ing Danbury and who was born in White Plains and grew up in Dobbs
Ferry. Zuckerberg is a genius, and I admire him. But he
To be candid with our readers, this past spring, as BRETT White Plains, doesn’t care speci cally about the communities we serve.
everything began to shut down, we almost joined that FREEMAN where we have He doesn’t have a vested interest in the state of our local
statistic. Fortunately, we were rescued by the federal some clients. It’s a economy, nor does he pay reporters to attend the local
government. Combined, the Small Business Admin- school board and town board meetings and report on
istration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and very strategic move them, and his employees don’t get involved in the local
the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) gave us chambers of commerce or volunteer for local Boy Scout
a new lease on life. We also asked you, our readers, for for us that provides troops or organizations that deliver food to people strug-
voluntary contributions to help make up a portion of gling locally or remove trash from local roads.
the lost advertising revenue we experienced due to the a level of exibility
pandemic, and many of you generously gave to us. For No, Facebook and Google don’t invest in that. But all
that, we are truly grateful. that we need, and for a much lower cost. of us who work for your local community newspaper
e PPP loan enabled us to maintain our payroll, Unlike a retail business that relies on walk-in traf-
and hopefully in the coming weeks we’ll receive the full We’re not the only industry negatively impacted
forgiveness for which we’ve applied. e reader contri- c, our employees, most of whom live in the towns we by Silicon Valley. All our retailers are competing with
butions, which we plan to make an ongoing campaign, Amazon; real estate agents are competing with Zillow
have given us a meaningful and necessary additional serve, have been fortunate enough to work from home. and Rex; local nancial advisers are competing with
revenue stream. And the EIDL loan, which must be zero-commission digital apps; community banks are
paid back in full over a 30-year period, has given us the Even before the pandemic, our employees were trend- competing with digital outlets that don’t have any local
breathing room to make smart strategic decisions about branches; and local car dealerships are competing with
the future direction of this business. ing in this direction as technology has made it easier Carvana and other similar sites.

So, what is the plan? Our plan is to double down on and easier to do this. Quite simply, it makes no sense But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
the thing that has made us successful in the rst place: Nothing beats the customer service of business own-
investing our resources to provide hyper-local news to to pay all that rent and utilities, nor does it make sense ers who live and work locally. ese are the business
the people living and working in the community and owners who sponsor the local sports teams and donate
tightening the purse strings on unnecessary expenses to devote the time and energy as a business owner to to all the local charities. Small business owners have
that don’t advance our mission. reputations to uphold. When you bump into your cus-
maintain a physical space like that. Frankly, on Dec. 31, tomers on a line at the local supermarket or post o ce,
One unnecessary expense was a 2,000 square foot it ensures a level of accountability that Je Bezos, the
o ce in Somers that has barely been used in the past when everything was nally cleaned out, I was relieved. CEO of Amazon, doesn’t need to maintain.
nine months. erefore, starting Jan. 1, we downsized
to a small one-room o ce in Mt. Kisco. I want to ensure everyone – our employees, readers As we start 2021, I urge all residents to rededicate
themselves to thinking “local,” whether it’s for shop-
Why Mt. Kisco? Mt. Kisco is a local community that and advertisers – that this move makes us a stronger ping, investing, banking or how you get your news.
either borders or is a quick drive from the ve com-
munities we serve. roughout this pandemic, it did business. With the money we’re saving on rent and at is the only way our local economies will continue
our previous visitors no good when they came to our to thrive.
former Somers location and found a locked, empty utilities, we’re able to upgrade our I.T. infrastructure,
o ce. Fortunately, our new o ce is owned by a work- I wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous
share company with a dedicated full-time receptionist which will make us more e cient, and we’re also hiring New Year!
that will greet our visitors and hand out extra papers or
accept letters to the editor (both of which are often the additional journalists. e latter decision to hire more New Office
reasons people visit). ey also maintain professional
conference rooms that are available when we have journalists is a rededication to be on the ground and 118 North Bedford Road Suite 100
meetings with clients and readers — post pandemic. Mt. Kisco, NY 10549
part of the communities served by our ve newspapers:
is company also permits us to use their space in
Mahopac News, e Somers Record, Yorktown News,

North Salem News and e Katonah-Lewisboro

Times. Frankly, I don’t need our employees sitting in

an o ce from 9-5. I need them interacting with our

readers and clients – whether it’s via email, phone or

face-to-face in the communities we serve (with a mask

on and 6 feet away, of course!).

roughout this pandemic, I also rediscovered who

our competitors are, and they are not other community

papers, who are fellow travelers in this unique mission-

based industry. Rather, our real competitors are the

faceless multi-billion-dollar corporations out in Silicon

Valley who track your every move on the Internet and

who have nothing vested in the communities we serve.

All of us are just a click to them.

Over the past 20 years, a majority of advertising dol-

lars have shifted to digital, and a majority of that digi-

tal revenue is being spent with Facebook and Google.

Don’t get me wrong. I use Google and Facebook

Page 4 – Yorktown News Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Staff Cuomo criticizes hospitals over vaccine distribution

EDITOR: 914-302-5628 of distribution are NewYork- COVID Counter (Yorktown)
[email protected]
BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER Presbyterian, which has used • Active: 431
SPORTS EDITOR: 914-302-5628
[email protected] Hoping to light a re under 99 percent of its allocation, and

ADVERTISING TEAM hospitals that have been slow to Northwell Health, which has • Last Week: 374
PAUL FORHAN distribute COVID-19 vaccines, used 62 percent. Westchester • High: 438 (Jan. 1)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Mon- Medical Center, however, has
(914) 806-3951
[email protected] day threatened nes against hos- distributed just 32 percent of the • Low: 6 (Aug. 13)
pitals that don’t fully use their al- vaccines it has received, placing • Total: 2,331
BRUCE HELLER location by the end of the week. it in the Bottom 10 statewide.
(914) 486-7608
[email protected] “If you don’t use the allocation “I don’t mean to embarrass According to information provided by Westchester County

LISA KAIN by the end of this week, you can any hospital, but I want them
(201) 317-1139
[email protected] be ned (up to $100,000) and to be held accountable,” Cuomo
(914) 760-7009 you won’t receive further alloca- said. ing and able. evidence is available in regard
[email protected]
tions,” Cuomo said at his daily If the vaccines are not distrib- “ e hospitals have been giv- to health care workers; however,
(914) 299-4541 press brie ng. “ is is a very se- uted in a timely manner, he said, en the vaccines for expeditious nursing homes have reported
[email protected]
JENNIFER CONNELLY rious public health issue.” the responsibility will be taken administration,” Cuomo said. that about 10 percent of resi-
(917) 446-7757
[email protected] New York state has 194 hospi- from those hospitals and given “If you have been given an al- dents and about 15 percent of
(914) 924-9122 tals (170 private and 24 public). to other hospitals that are will- location, and you’ve only used a sta have refused the vaccine,
[email protected]
GABRIELLE BILIK third of the allocation, then you said Dr. Howard Zucker, the
[email protected] Rooney Orthodontics shouldn’t have the allocation.” state’s health commissioner.
Children & Adults To date, about 300,000 vac- Cuomo, during his press brief-
TABITHA PEARSON MARSHALL cines have been administered in ing, enlisted the help of county
New York. Nursing homes were executives in distributing the
CREATIVE DIRECTOR the rst priority, Cuomo said. Of vaccine, particularly at publicly
PHOTOGRAPHER the state’s 611 nursing homes, owned medical centers.

[email protected] 288 have completed the rst Westchester Medical Cen-
ART DIRECTOR/ doses. e rest, he said, should ter is privately owned; however,

DIGITAL PRODUCTION MANAGER be completed over the next two Westchester County Executive
[email protected]
weeks. George Latimer, at his own press
BRETT FREEMAN “We want to nish the nurs- conference later that day, said he
845-208-8151 ing homes,” Cuomo said. “Hos- welcomes any responsibility.

[email protected] pitals are doing health care “What we’re being asked to

Deadlines workers. Hospitals will then be do, or required to do, is to step

YORKTOWN NEWS DEADLINE doing members of the general into an area where we don’t have
public and essential workers. current authority and use our
But the state will also be open- leadership skills to accomplish
BEFORE THE NEXT PUBLICATION DATE. ing its own distribution e ort to it,” Latimer said.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, 17 Miller Rd. accelerate those vaccines. Part of Beginning Jan. 4, more New
CALL BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER AT the state’s e ort will be a special Yorkers became eligible to re-
914-302-5628 OR EMAIL
[email protected]. Mahopac focus on poor communities.” ceive the vaccine:
845-621-1222 Refusals have also been an • All outpatient/ambulatory
Subscribe issue when it comes to vaccine front-line, high-risk health care
TO REQUEST YORKTOWN NEWS distribution. Only anecdotal workers of any age who provide
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Page 6 – Yorktown News Thursday, January 7, 2021


School board considers gymnasium renovation

BY BRIAN MARSCHHAUSER tendent Dr. Ron Hattar. porting Value lters would be added; new Monday, Jan. 11.

EDITOR Trustee Michael Magnani, who chairs wall mats and retractable basketball hoops If the bids are awarded, the anticipated

the board’s Fiscal Advisory Committee, would be installed; the oor would be re n- completion date for the project is late sum-

Is the middle of a pandemic the right said borrowing from the capital reserve ished; new lighting would be installed, and mer.

time for a school district to renovate a high fund would run counter to the spirit of its new mechanical dividers would enable the “I want to do this project because the gym

school gym? creation. court to be divided as needed. does need an overhaul,” said trustee Antho-

With a $1.8 million proposal on the table “ is is exactly the reason why we created “ is is not just cosmetic work,”Magnani ny D’Allesandro. “I do believe we also got

and a decision needed this month, members the capital reserve fund, so that we wouldn’t said. “We’re talking about signi cant struc- such a great price because of the environ-

of the Yorktown Central School District have to borrow to do projects,” Magnani tural work.” ment we’re in...I think moving it forward to

Board of Education debated that question said. “So, to turn around and say that we At the multipurpose eld, an additional next year, we might not see that wonderful

at their meeting on Monday, Dec. 21. would borrow that money back again, it’s set of ADA-compliant bleachers also would price of $400,000 less than what we thought

But such a question, administrators said, really counterproductive to what we origi- be added to increase capacity on the home it was going to be.”

cannot be answered without considering nally intended.” side by about 50 percent, and a patio with D’Allesandro said the time might not be

how the project—and, more importantly, Hattar, explaining the improvements, high-top tables (no seating) would be added right for a project of this nature, but advo-

the funding for the project—came to be. said the gymnasium is more than an athletic near the concessions trailer. cated for moving forward with the bids.

In 2017, district voters approved the cre- space: It is an instructional space for physi- e school district put out three sepa- “Do I believe it’s the greatest time to do

ation of a capital reserve fund of up to $12 cal education classes, a testing location, and rate requests for proposals: electrical work something like this? Probably not,” he said.

million. Voter authorization is required to has hosted community events and concerts. (low bid of $254,000), HVAC (low bid of “But we need to do this gym and [the mon-

withdraw funds and $8 million has been “It has seen better days,” Hattar said. “It $933,000), and a motorized gym curtain ey] was appropriated for the gym two years

spent.Voters also have greenlit spending the could certainly use an improvement, not divider, padding, and exterior site and drain- ago…Maybe it’s not the best time to do

remaining $4 million, from which funding only for aesthetics but certainly for the safe- age work (low bid of $599,000). Bids came something like this; however, maybe some-

of the gym renovations would be derived. ty component, as well.” in about $400,000 lower than expected, thing good should come out of the light of

But with school districts in nancial dis- Bleachers, adorned with a logo, would Hattar said. this pandemic.”

tress because of the pandemic, largely due to have safety rails; acoustical panels would be e school board has 45 days to accept Trustee Lisa Rolle wondered whether the

reduced state aid, New York State is allow- put in the ceiling; Minimum E ciency Re- the bids. e next school board meeting is money could be repurposed.

ing public school districts to use such funds “ is was decided three years ago under

to plug shortfalls in their operating budgets, ‘Do I believe it’s the greatest time to do something like this? completely di erent circumstances. Maybe
with one major caveat: e money must be Probably not. But we need to do this gym and [the money] now the community feels the gym is not
repaid to the reserve fund in ve years with their top priority and the money should be

interest. was appropriated for the gym two years ago.’ used for something else,” Rolle said. “And
“It might feel really good in year one, but my question is simply: Can that happen if

I’ve seen this story play out in year two,three –Anthony D’Allesandro that’s what the community wants?”

and four, and it sets a district up for long- Yorktown BOE Hattar said he would nd an answer to

term scal jeopardy,” said schools Superin- her question.

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