District Discusses Reorganization Proposal at BOE Meeting
At Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, Eastchester Superintendent Dr. Ronald Valenti unveiled a new Grade Level Reorganization Plan that would reshape Eastchester’s School District with the goal of providing better academic outcomes for its students.
As the public learns more about this proposed plan, Dr. Valenti is hopeful that parents will remain open to the academic and social opportunities afforded by such a decision.
The proposal would reorganize Eastchester’s elementary schools by grade level, with Waverly remaining as the District’s home for K-1 education. Under the prospective plan, Greenvale would serve Grades 2 and 3, while Anne Hutchinson—with amenities including an auditorium, more expansive playing fields and a larger cafeteria—would house Grades 4 and 5.
According to Dr. Valenti, this approach—which has been adopted in 13 school districts in Westchester over the past few years, including high-performing districts such as Byram Hills and Irvington—would ultimately benefit Eastchester students through the concentration of educational services, allowing for an equitable and effective delivery of instruction.
“I think we made a strong case in terms of the curriculum alignment when all the students in a school are at the same grade level,” said Dr. Valenti. “And I believe that the community accepted our position in terms of professional development and how it could be more effective when implemented with all teachers at the same grade level.”
Noting that roughly 70 percent of the District’s grade levels—those housed in Waverly, Eastchester Middle School and Eastchester High School—already adhere to this model, Dr. Valenti suggested that it was natural for Anne Hutchinson and Greenvale to follow suit.
“We have to ask ourselves, why are they the exception?” He said.
The move, he added, would also ensure that teacher/student ratios would be identical throughout a grade level, giving the District a powerful model for closing the COVID academic gap.
Community members at the Board meeting voiced some concerns about the proposal, including questions about a possible increase in transportation times, but Dr. Valenti believes the dialogue was constructive on several fronts.
“One issue that is challenging, whether we do the change or not, is transportation,” said Dr. Valenti. “That has to be fixed, and as of Wednesday, I’ve authorized the hiring of a transportation consultant.”
Other issues, such as a first-year disruption, will be unavoidable if the District ultimately moves forward with the plan, although Dr. Valenti acknowledged any speed bump would be temporary in nature.
“Change is a disruptive factor; if we’re going to do this change for the right reasons, there will be one year of disruption across the board,” said Dr. Valenti. “There’s no way of eliminating that from the equation, but I think we could be very proud of the results of Eastchester students in every school with this type of plan.”
Dr. Valenti said that District administrators are currently compiling more data on the proposed plan and working across grade levels and schools to find ways to mitigate some of the challenges of reorganization. Additionally, he said the District is eager to hear more from the community in the coming weeks about questions they may have about the move.
“I would want to know through the survey analysis what are the critical challenges we need to get working on,” said Dr. Valenti. “That way, we will be able to find solutions to problems that are able to be solved."