May 19, 2017

College tuition help for families

For local families trying to make the numbers work on financing college for their kids, the outlook for next fall has grown a little bit brighter. Under New York’s “Excelsior Scholarships” program enacted in April, students whose families earn up to $100,00 this year are eligible to receive free tuition at any state college or university. The program, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a key legislative priority, was passed as part of the state budget negotiations. It is expected to help thousands of people by making college more affordable.

New York becomes the first state to cover tuition at four-year public colleges; Tennessee and Oregon have similar programs that are primarily for two-year public colleges. The reach of the scholarships means that popular college options such as SUNY Binghamton or SUNY Purchase would be covered, as would Westchester Community College.

While hailed as a model for other states, the program has its flaws, as critics have pointed out. For example, to qualify, students must plan to go straight from high school to college, a requirement that could exclude teens from lower-income families that need to work to save up for other college costs like room and board. Another controversial provision is that recipients are obligated to stay in New York after graduation for as many years as they received the awards, or they risk having the grant converted into a loan.

In no small measure Mr. Cuomo’s program echoes the tuition-free college campaign plank of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. They share another element, too — income redistribution as a means to finance what are seen as worthy social and economic goals. To fund the scholarships, New York legislators extended an income tax surcharge on high earners, known as the millionaire’s tax. A “blue” state could hardly go any bluer.

Two poems, deeply connected

Several weeks ago in this space we published a poem read by Katonah Postmaster Joe Jednesty at the Favorite Poem Project Community Reading sponsored by the Katonah Poetry Series and the Katonah Village Library (“Poetry is in the air,” April 28). “Community, like a great sycamore, is deeply connected,” Mr. Jednesty began his reading before an audience seated outdoors in front of the Library portico.

Today we are pleased to share another poem, this one written by John Jay Middle School sixth-grader, Senna Levy. “My Grandmother’s Tree” is a bittersweet reflection on her grandmother’s aging and life’s ups and downs. We’re not the only one impressed by Senna’s writing. The poem was selected to appear in the May issue of Chronogram magazine, a new publication celebrating writers in the Hudson Valley, and was named the February 2017 Cricket magazine Poetry Contest Winner. We are pleased to share it with you here.

“My Grandmother’s Tree”

Minds are like trees.

They grow and grow

With leaves like thoughts

And branches like memories

All clinging to the strength of the trunk.

Every thought wants to grow

Longing to fly

But some never soar

Just drift down to the ground

To be buried in the snowfall of another year.

My grandmother’s tree is old.

So many leaves have fallen

The memories fading

As the trunk is infested

By the insects of old age.

My grandmother reaches and claws

Trying to grab all the memories and thoughts

That slip through her fingers

As if she knows

That this is her final autumn.

Almost gone now.

My grandmother’s tree is barren

Her final leaves are waiting to fall

Last tattered remnants

Of the sapling she once was.

Soon, the snow will come.

— Senna Levy

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Pound Ridge/Scotts Corners

  1. Scotts Corner Market,Trinity Corners Shopping Center, 55 Westchester Avenue

  2. Pound Ridge Sunoco, 66 Westchester Avenue    

Bedford Village

  1. Bedford Rexall Pharmacy, Hunting Ridge Mall; 424 Old Post Road  

  2. Village Green Deli, Village Green; Routes 22 and 172    

  3. Bedford Shell, Routes 22 and 172 (at blinking light); 848 So. Bedford Road

  4. Village Service Center, 193 Pound Ridge Road (at Long Ridge Road intersection)    

Bedford Hills

  1. Bedford Hills Deli, Babbitt Road    

  2. Bueti’s Deli, 526 Bedford Road (Route 117)

  3. Meme’s Treats, 17 Adams Street


  1. Little Joe’s Books, 25 Katonah Avenue     

  2. CVS – Katonah Shopping Center, 294 Katonah Avenue   

  3. Katonah Sunoco, 105 Bedford Road

  4. The Reading Room, 19 Edgemont Road

  5. Weinstein’s Pharmacy, 101 Katonah Avenue

  6. DeCicco Family Markets, 132 Bedford Road

  7. Katonah Pharmacy, 202 Katonah Avenue

Mount Kisco

  1. Teamo/Mt. Kisco News, 239 Main Street    

Cross River

  1. Cross River Shell Station, Route 35    

  2. Cameron’s Deli. 890 Route 35

  3. Cross River Pharmacy, 20 North Salem Road

  4. DeCicco Family Markets, 1 Orchard Plaza

Goldens Bridge

Cardware Store, 100 N. County Shopping Center

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