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Few schools chiefs get take-home cars; more receive allowances or put in for mileage
Written by Cara Matthews Oct. 10, 2013 | Purchase Image Mount Vernon Interim Superintendent Judith Johnson passed on taking a district car but does get a $10,000 annual car allowance. / Carucha L. Meuse/ The Journal News Just two of the 54 school districts in the Lower Hudson Valley Yonkers and New Rochelle provide their superintendents with take-home vehicles, and almost 20 pay monthly or annual car allowances. Most common is the old standard of submitting for mileage reimbursement, a Tax Watch survey has found.

Mount Vernon Interim Superintendent Judith Johnson passed on taking a district car but does get a $10,000 annual car allowance.

Mount Vernon Interim Superintendent Judith Johnson said she declined use of a school district automobile, in part because she has a tendency to scratch cars.

I dont want to be responsible for any damage to a district car, she said, instead taking a $10,000 annual allowance to cover her vehicle and travel costs. Croton-Harmon schools chief Edward Fuhrman Jr. said his allowance has been the same for five years: $5,400 yearly ($450 monthly) for travel, including parking, tolls and mileage. When I talk to my colleagues, I find its very standard, he said, adding it would cost taxpayers more if he put in for all his mileage and other travel expenses. Monthly allowances vary, from $125 in Scarsdale to $650 in Nyack and the $10,000 or $833 a month in Mount Vernon. A Nyack schools spokeswoman said a factor in giving Superintendent James Montesano a $650 monthly car allowance was that he retired from a district in New Jersey and doesnt receive district health benefits. Tax Watch sent Freedom of Information Law requests to school districts in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam seeking information about employees who are given cars for commuting and/or district business. The newspaper also asked about monthly car allowances and reviewed superintendent contracts available on, the Empire Center for Public Policys government transparency website. Several districts previously gave superintendents vehicles, including Mount Vernon, White Plains and Scarsdale. In Greenburgh, former Superintendent Ronald Smalls started his employment with a Chevrolet Impala the district leased and ended up with a $500-per-month car stipend. Current Superintendent Ronald Ross doesnt receive either.

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Oct 14, 2013 09:36:24AM MDT

Julie Moran Alterio contributed to this report. Twitter: @

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Oct 14, 2013 09:36:24AM MDT

Judith Johnson Starts School Year as Mount Vernon Interim Superintendent

Peekskill City School Districts former superintendent started the school year in Mount Vernon today.
Posted by Liz Giegerich (Editor) , September 05, 2012 at 04:04 PM

After less than two years of retirement, Peekskill schools former superintendent Judith Johnson has started a new job as interim superintendent for the Mount Vernon City School District. She replaced Waveline Bennett-Conroy, who was serving as interim superintendent after Welton Sawyer left the district under a settlement not made public.

Johnson was hired July 2, elected by a 7-1 vote of the Mount Vernon Board of Education, according to the Journal News Ned P. Rauch. Johnson served the Peekskill City School District for nearly ten years; she resigned in late 2010 and served her last day Jan. 4, 2011. Before her time in the city, Johnson held several positions in the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration. What did you think of Johnson as Peekskills superintendent? What do you think of her new job? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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+ Leave a Comment joshua tanner September 05, 2012 at 10:52 PM I know Judith " Cha-Ching" took the money and ran but I didn't know where too. Hope Mt Vernon can afford all the extra 200+k assistants Johnson will want. Hope the police force beefs up too. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate peekskillman September 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM let's see how she raises taxes there as she did here to put up the monument to herself and the other board members at the time...the Middle School. Looks like another district is in for tax increases of over 50% like was done here. good luck Mr Vernon, you are going to need it Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

RK September 06, 2012 at 02:31 PM Judith was incompetent - she buried anyone who had their own thoughts and opinions and lied about a lot of things going on in the school district. She would rather a kid get the s*** kicked out of him or her than kick the abhorrent thug out of school. She coddled gang members as they controlled the school through their violence instead of insisting on discipline. Mt. Vernon doesn't have a clue what they are in for - joshua is right, better beef up police presence - just not in the school because she won't let them in! Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Alex Acevedo September 06, 2012 at 03:40 PM My favorite thing about Ms. Johnson as Superintendent? I can't decide whether it was when she supported the bus companies ban on reading on the bus my two kids took to school or when she said that people are taking their kids out of the schools cause they don't want to have their kids in a diverse school environment. She's somebody elses problem now, Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Jo Robinson September 06, 2012 at 04:06 PM My favorite thing about JJ was her leaving. It was the best thing for Peekskill. Mt Vernon has my condolences, they will need it. Give her time to settle in. School crime will go unreported to make her look good. Then she will try for Superintendent of the Year again after she destroys the district but fudges the books to make it look good. And lastly she will fill the board with her cronies and bond & tax you up to your eyeballs to build a new school to be named after her for her false accomplishments. Best thing she did for Peekskill - leaving. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

Charlie Wyndham September 06, 2012 at 05:10 PM Good luck Mt. Vernon, you thought you had problems before? She is atrocious and an absolute joke of an educator..... Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Alex Acevedo September 06, 2012 at 05:26 PM Talking about fudging the books. I once had an administrator email me about the advance placement classes. Since they were only touting the number of kids who take the test and never mention the passing rate. Another parent had asked what the passing rate for these test were. Admin: The rate of passing varies according to subject. Me: Can you answer that by listing all the subjects and their respective passing rates. Admin: Let me get back to you... I never heard from her again. I'm sure that they weren't proud that the charade was exposed. If a student had given me an answer like...'it varies' I would've flunked her/him for giving me an incomplete answer. Not acceptable. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate ezekiel September 06, 2012 at 09:51 PM IN NEED OF CASH URGENTLY? AVAILABLE LOANS FROM $500 $300,000,000 No more declines or embarrassments... Get loans for: Personal use Debt consolidation Home renovations Medical emergencies We also do combination loans. GOOD or BAD credit welcome. Come let us help you. Our exceptional service, fast approvals and same day payouts, makes us the first place to call if you need a loan. CONTACT US AT website: Email: Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Janice Barresi September 06, 2012 at 10:33 PM

All I can say is good luck Mt. Vernon! I hope you were looking for a micro manger and a bully because thAts what you got! Don't express your options either it's her way or the highway! Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

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Peekskill Preparing Response to State School Critique

Specific actions, timelines and persons responsible for making improvements are among efforts to address shortcomings found at Peekskill High School.

The Peekskill school district is marshaling its resources to develop a plan to address shortcomings cited in a recent state report about Peekskill High School. A draft report, based on a three-day visit by a Joint Intervention Team (JIT) in late November, was received just before Christmas, Superintendent of Schools James Willis told the Board of Education during a work session Tuesday night. The district now must develop a specific response including actions, deadlines and persons responsible for implementing changes.

The JIT visit, a highly structured process including 100 indicators, involved extensive review of data and first-hand observations to assess conditions at the school. The visit was prompted by the high schools inclusion on state watch lists for six years; it is in its second year as a school in need of restructuring. Students with disabilities are not reaching goals in English language arts and mathematics while all student groups are falling short of the target graduation rate. To read more about the Nov. 28-30 visit, please click here. The district is required to submit a comprehensive response and plan by February and, after state review, begin implementation by September. This is important, this is serious, this is very thorough, Willis said. We need a sense of urgency, board President Joseph Urbanowicz said. This is about students and their lives, not about systems. We must do better. The JIT process was triggered by test results. Now we want to find and address the causes, Willis said. Joseph Mosey, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, is using the draft report to develop a comprehensive action plan that identifies concerns and gathers information to develop remedies, people responsible for implementing them and time frames. The action plan will be posted on the districts Web site, along with the formal JIT report. Under JIT rules the initial draft is not available to the public. Mosey said one goal of the plan is to identify and

emphasize positive things that motivate kids to do well. Outside experts will be consulted to help us get it right. We expect a positive outcome. Successful actions in school districts with problems similar to those of Peekskill will be examined with a view to adapting them, Willis added. Urbanowicz emphasized that the people developing the action plan must be our best people, a thought echoed by several board colleagues. Board member Tuesday McDonald cautioned that some of the prospective players may be part of the problem. Board member Douglas Glickert suggested listening to and utilizing suggestions from staffers, some of which could be implemented quickly. We need to make sure we have instructional leadership, Willis said, noting that school officials often are so busy managing buildings that too little time is devoted to managing instruction. In a related matter, Willis noted that Peekskill Middle School and Hillcrest Elementary School are undergoing the state School Quality Review process. Reviewers spent two days at Hillcrest before the winter break and are spending two days this week at the middle school. To read more about the review process please click here.
And how much is being spent per pupil in this school? If it turns out that they can identify teachers, administrator and staff members who are part of the problem, will they be fired? Will anyone actually be held accountable as would happen in the private sector? Or will everything be swept under the rug, as usual, and all the drones continue to receive exorbitant salaries and benefits that the tax-slaves can only dream of. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

Tom D January 12, 2012 at 02:11 PM You don't think NYSUT is going to stand by and let you hold their cash cow, I mean member teachers accountable, nor the administrators do you? Recommend Flag as Inappropriate joshua tanner January 12, 2012 at 02:18 PM Judith Johnson took the money and ran - got out while the getting was good. A good talker Judith was. No doubt people in the future reading her curriculum vitae will think Judith did a cracking job in Peekskill. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate tom January 12, 2012 at 05:17 PM Maybe they should follow Patty's model and give them lavish separation packages like they do in the private sector and walk and not care what is left behind for those who actually do the work. I've always believed in the phrase "it takes a village to raise a child." While fixes in the school might help some, I think the overall educational model needs to be looked at beyond local schools. It also takes effort on parents, community etc. But instead blame those who took initiative to get Masters degrees, get certifications based on federal and state standards. Patty you sound like you have ideas and visions, why don't you run for a school board position? Recommend Flag as Inappropriate peekskillman January 12, 2012 at 10:10 PM Mr Tanner is correct in that Judith did what she wanted to do, got all her minions on the Board at the time to rubber stamp everything, and then as soon as the debacle called the Middle School on Washington St was built, headed for the hills. Oh, and not before she had a room named after her. All the taxes, app 63% of every City tax dollar, goes

to the schools. The community at large, and more importantly the students, deserve better, from not only the teachers but the administrators. Perhaps it IS time to have a valuation of all personnel, it cant be just the children's fault. And why is this issue not more towards the front page? It seems that every time something negative happens in the district, it needs to be read with a microscope. Is it perhaps the enormous state aid per pupil the we get? Have to pay the huge salaries, I guess. Totally unacceptable! Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Peter Goodson January 12, 2012 at 11:18 PM Glad to see Josh and others have it right. Judith Johnson created the problems that are finally coming to the public. The Peekskill Democratic Party and Johnson were one in the same, working together. Johnson got out because she knew the state was exposing the truth. Her whole time here was about perception rather than reality and all about the new middle school. The truth is coming out about that as well. It costs millions more than the bond she illegally passed and education suffered so she could play a financial shell game. The building is falling apart and was designed and built very poorly. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate John Q. Public January 12, 2012 at 11:57 PM The story here is that School District took more than 2 months to respond to this. The problems in the District, dating back 10 years, are well known to everyone but a sleepy press (The North County News was derelict in their duty to report issues which were brought to their attention but they failed to report -- maybe why they exist no more...) Everyone who pays school tax in Peekskill and cannot in good conscience send their kids to public school should stand up. Judith Johnson and the Peekskill Democrats, with the help of the NCN, destroyed Peekskill schools.

Recommend Flag as Inappropriate peekskillman January 13, 2012 at 01:14 AM The delays were intentional with the hopes that the story would fade away, somewhere on the far pages of the newspaper. The sad fact is that we the taxpayers are stuck with the high taxes and failed policies of Johnson and the previous board (some of who are still in office) And ultimately, the students of the district are the ultimate sufferers, as their futures were/are being hampered by the inadequacies of our administrators. Throwing money at the problems and building multimillion dollar schools wont help anyone without tangible results for the children. Maybe it is in the best interest of the district ot have the state comne in and take control, then let's see the results after a few years. Cant do any worse than what is happening now Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

PHS Failing to Meet Goals; State Says to Restructure and Improve

The state Joint Intervention Team, reporting on November visit, urges curriculum, leadership improvements, more attention to students with disabilities.
Posted by Jeff Canning , December 21, 2011 at 10:36

Peekskill High School is failing to meet state goals and needs restructuring in order to reach them, a member of a state Joint Intervention Team (JIT) told the Board of Education

Tuesday night. Key problem areas are the progress of special education students and the graduation rate. Focusing on seven areas, Dr. James Butterworth offered the board a fast-paced overview of the teams findings during its official visit to the high school Nov. 28-30. The full report is to be delivered to the district by early January. Butterworth, a former assistant state commissioner of education, is the executive director of the Capital Area School Development Association. He was the outside educational expert on the 11-member team, whose members included Joseph Mosey, Peekskills assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, and Frederick Hutchinson, Peekskills director for reading and gifted. Mosey and Hutchinson introduced Butterworths presentation, noting that the JIT visit was prompted by the high schools inclusion on state watch lists for six years two as a school in need of improvement, followed by two as a school in need of corrections. It is now in its second year as a school in need of restructuring. Students with disabilities are not reaching goals in English language arts and mathematics while all student groups are falling short of the target graduation rate. Basically, Peekskill High School is stuck, Butterworth said. The school has not made significant progress in identified areas and is not likely to make its AYP (annual yearly progress) on its present course. A goal of the visit is to help the school revamp itself, especially its organizational structure and leadership, to improve student achievement. The JIT visit, a highly structured process including 100 indicators, involved extensive review of data and first-hand observations to assess conditions at the school, Butterworth explained. Classroom observations and interviews with

teachers, students, parents and district officials were part of the process. While the primary focus of the JIT think of us as critical friends, Butterworth suggested is to focus on problem areas, he said the team found commendable strengths in Peekskill that are not always noticeable in troubled schools. He cited staff commitment; a feeling among students that they are supported and connected to their teachers and school; common planning time; reduction in the number of subgroups not meeting their AYP goals in recent years; and accomplishments among students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds equal to those of other students. The team sensed a good spirit in the school and found student misbehavior such as tardiness to be more habitual than malicious. Butterworth said the JITs concerns included: Curriculum: No evidence of written curriculum tied to state standards, no vertical or horizontal alignment in core areas, no evidence of systematically developed lesson plans. Teaching/learning: Little evidence of internal leadership, low faculty expectations of students despite high levels of support, little evidence in mixed classes of individualized instruction or adequate understanding of techniques for supporting students with disabilities and English language learners. School leadership: Lack of shared vision, expenditure of administrative time primarily on building management (safety, order, scheduling) instead of instructional supervision and program development, lack of leadership from the special education department for special education instruction. Infrastructure for student success: High number of referrals to administrators, no plan to increase attendance

rates and lower tardiness rates, limited joint planning among general and special education educators, academic intervention services that are not in compliance with state standards. Collection and use of data: Done effectively for reports to the state but not utilized to drive local improvements. Professional development: Episodic, not comprehensive, not enough time, common planning time underutilized. District support: Sense of disconnection between the school and the district administration. Among the 35 recommendations forthcoming in the final report, Butterworth mentioned redesign of the administrative team and curriculum, increased expectations of students, ongoing faculty development, improved time management, increased support for special education students and English language learners, greater curriculum integration and more support for the people carrying out these efforts. While the JIT does not help directly with improvements, Butterworth said, it offers networking with specialized consultants and with districts that have dealt successfully with similar challenges. The Putnam/Northern Westchester Board of Cooperative Educational Services offers similar networks, he said. Describing the JIT report as a baseline, he suggested that Peekskill set priorities and utilize its significant resources to seek a few quick victories and build upon them as it tackles more complex challenges. We have work to do, board President Joseph Urbanowicz acknowledged, summarizing the sense of urgency voiced by board colleagues and administrators. Board member Douglas Glickert suggested that one immediate improvement could be a crackdown on tardiness.

Superintendent of Schools James Willis said the district needed a curriculum map, beginning with vertical alignment of subjects from one grade to the next followed by horizontal alignment, in which each class is at approximately the same spot in the curriculum and subject matter is handled at approximately the same time in different academic disciplines. As an example he cited studying Harper Lees novel To Kill a Mockingbird in an English class while a history class was studying southern social and economic conditions before the civil rights movement. Assistant Superintendent Mosey is seeking grants to help fund improvement initiatives. The district is required to submit a Comprehensive Education Plan to the state Education Department in January. A revised version, addressing the JIT findings, is due in February, along with a Comprehensive District Education Plan. After state review the district will implement the plans over two years beginning in the spring. Its a lot of work, said Mosey, who has been dealing with some of the JIT issues for several months. But we will get it done.

+ Leave a Comment Flag as Inappropriate peekskillman December 22, 2011 at 10:31 PM well, well, well-the chickens have finally come home to roost. After all the years with Judith Johnson as Supt, telling us how everything is just fine, the truth finally emerges. With all the special programs, illegall aliens making up over 65% of the district students, English as a second language classes (hello, we are in America, speak our language), students who dont live in the district but take advantage of

our programs, and all the unfunded mandates fromn the state and feds, it's a wonder anything can get accomplished. Makes you wonder where the huge tax dollars are going; upwards of 64% of our City tax bills are paying for these results? No wonder people wont move here due to the schools, cant blame them for that! Recommend Flag as Inappropriate leesther brown December 23, 2011 at 01:23 AM Liz, You have got to be kidding me!,what is it with this certain family they are involved in murder,drug dealing,have property that is a true nuisance to the City and how dare anyone put it out there?.You have printed anything that the chameleon has come to town and got up to the podium with unsupported accusations every time he spews it.I should have said it was allegedly a BB gun but of course there was probably no police involvement because of the hush hush policy put in place by the former superintendent.You report about the Tinsley/Robinson drug arrest but never report their standing in the community,(Rec Leader/School Security) do you post a picture of them?,but when it's one of our youth you're quick to post a picture of them why is that?!Come on with that selective reporting,if you are going to put it out there treat them all the same.Anybody else's kid would have been plastered all over the Patch....It's true and I will not post his name I suspect you know just who I'm talking about so might I suggest you try and F.O.I.L the info. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate leesther brown December 23, 2011 at 02:22 AM Corrupt From The Halls Of Education Right Down To The Laws Of Our Cement... Recommend Flag as Inappropriate

Liz Giegerich (Editor) December 23, 2011 at 10:32 AM Leesther, When someone is 18 or older and commits a felony I usually post their photo. If they are under 18 I do not think I have ever posted the photo. Police blotters do not include the arrested individuals' occupations so I was unaware of Tinsley/Robinsons jobs when I reported the arrest. I will follow up with police and/or schools on the gun incident you mention. Please continue this conversation in email if you want to discuss that incident further, for the reasons mentioned above. Thank you. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate Alex Acevedo December 23, 2011 at 12:22 PM They did try and paint a different picture in public. If you heard the previous Superintendent you'd wonder how you can keep your kids out of these 'great' school. As it turns out many who have the resources have put their kids elsewhere. This crosses all demographics and they turned a blind eye. Recommend Flag as Inappropriate