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SEPTEMBER 25, 2015


If not GNA, then who?

Greenacres Elementary School will mark its centennial with a jubilee gala Nov. 20. What a milestone and cause for celebration! How many children have begun their journey through the education system here and in this 21st century, how many more children will pass through its doors?

Planning for the school’s next 100 years is high priority, given the age of the building. Although Greenacres has been modified over the years, most of the facility was constructed between 1916 and 1929.

The school is the nucleus of the Greenacres neighborhood and its greenspace and fields are the hub of community gatherings and Greenacres Neighborhood Association functions.

The neighborhood association, also active for more than 100 years, serves to “enhance the sense of community with Greenacres, and to encourage our neighbors to work together for the betterment of the community as a whole.” Part of its mandate is to “inform the village and school district about our issues and concerns.”

In 2014 the Scarsdale Board of Education hired architects KG&D to do a feasibility study to plan for the long-term needs of Greenacres. This study was done in conjunction with planning districtwide capital projects for facilities repair.

Community reaction to KG&D’s preliminary report on the feasibility study indicated the need for a more thoughtful, inclusive process. To that end, a reformulated committee, which is to be formally approved at the board meeting Oct. 7, will identify issues and discuss current and various other options for the school that will affect the whole village through a bond issue for years to come.

Six more members will join the original Greenacres Building Committee for a total of seven faculty members, two Greenacres Neighborhood Association representatives, two school board members, four PTA members, one at-large member who is continuing as a former Greenacres PTA representative and two district personnel. District architects and consultants will participate as well.

But some stakeholders, many of whom oppose “Option C,” rebuilding the school on its fields, feel they aren’t being heard or their opinions counted. Empty nesters and people with children out of the elementary school feel they aren’t represented, because the Greenacres Neighborhood Association, which is charged with representing its constituency, has stated clearly that it will not represent any point of view, but rather will act only as a conduit of information.

One of the major issues with the school building, as reported in the initial progress report of the Greenacres feasibility study, is that there is not enough space for a full student program. Greenacres has 26 percent less overall usable net square footage per student than the average of the other four elementary schools, the report noted.

As the community and the district grapple with the issues, the Greenacres Neighborhood Association should carefully consider its role. Beyond relaying information, does it have a responsibility to fight for residents’ interests? Does it have a responsibility to lobby for all sides of an issue? Should it play a role to help find solutions? If it remains so steadfastly neutral, who will be the voice of the people when the committee meets?

Tradition in Scarsdale is to lead or govern with objectivity and build consensus. But the time has come for this association to help resolve conflict, to move the community toward the best solutions and make sure every voice is heard clearly and completely.

— Linda Leavitt, Editor Emerita

Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of The Scarsdale Inquirer. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.

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