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Pelham School Board Honors Hockey Team, Discusses Budget

PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham Board of Education on Monday juggled the task of reviewing the proposed school budget for next year with honoring the high school hockey team and hearing a report from the middle school group Friends of Rachel.

Before diving into budget discussions, the Pelham Memorial High School hockey team was recognized at the beginning of the meeting for its season.

Coach Ed Witz called his team “a very dedicated group of young men” and said his staff was “lucky to have the opportunity to coach them.” While the Pelicans fell to Kenmore East 3-2 in overtime in Utica in the state semifinal. The team has made it to the Frozen Four in three of the last four years, for which they were commended by high school Principal Jeannine Clark.

When the budget came up, custodial and mechanic services were one of the major themes. Anthony Mandile, director of facilities for the Pelham School District, stressed how important the 31 custodians are to each of the six Pelham schools.

While two parents asked if the custodians were necessary during the morning hours and if they were needed to open the schools, Mandile said custodians had a multitude of tasks to complete in the morning, including setting up the cafeteria for lunch, taking care of any messes that occur and making sure the building runs as it should, in addition to other responsibilities.

The 2012-13 proposed school budget shows a 3.69 percent tax hike from last year, with the total expense at $65.7 million—up from $63.2 million during the 2011-12 budget year.

Board members and parents who spoke all thanked the custodians for their work and for keeping the buildings in great condition.

Members of Friends of Rachel attended the meeting to share some of their goals and recent activities.  The group is based on Rachel’s Challenge, named after Rachel Scott, who was the first victim killed in the Columbine High School attacks. Scott believed that one good act could start a chain reaction and more people would be nicer to each other as a result, the group explained.

Group members, who range from fifth to eighth-graders, spoke of the different initiatives they have started and a short video was shown on the impact of the club at Pelham Middle School. One such initiative is a “positive gossip box,” which each student has and allows other students to share complementary messages about the box’s owner.

They have also started a “safe table” at lunch for a person who is not sure where to sit or if they have anyone to sit with at lunch. There is a designated table that they can sit at so they don’t have to worry about being alone, the group explained.

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