A SAD DAY FOR THE EAST RAMPAPO CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT AND THE PUBLIC NON-ULTRA-ORTHODOX JEWISH CHILDREN….
In our view this is a sad day for Rockland County’s East Ramapo Central School District. It is a tragedy for the 8000 public school students who will be losing to the ultra-Orthodox run school board. As we see it East Ramapo is lost for public school children. The money will do nothing but fund bus transportation to the ultra-Orthodox children attending yeshivas. We cannot find fault with the ultra-Orthodox alone.
After all, the last ten years have been about voter apathy and the public school parents were in large part indifferent to the need to vote. There was an opportunity to vote in a more balanced school board this past year and it did not pass. Hopefully Elia will pay attention to what is happening and not assume that this is the end of the story.
NEW YORK – A deal that would end years of tension in the East Ramapo school district is set to pass the state legislature on Thursday, denying the veto-empowered overseer some legislators sought.
Under the breakthrough legislation, which was agreed upon by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic-led Assembly and the Republican Senate, the district will receive an additional $3 million next year. This money is earmarked solely for the district’s dwindling public school population and will be overseen by state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia.
The $3 million, which will be funded jointly by each chamber and the governor, is a minute portion of the board’s overall approximately $225 million annual school budget. But the board that serves the district which comprises the Torah centers of Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square, has come under increased scrutiny as they were forced to use their limited school funds to cover required services to private schools, such as busing, special education and textbooks.
Elia, who has cooperated with the Orthodox community in crafting the compromise bill, was seen as an acceptable alternative to the appointment of a monitor with veto power, as local lawmakers and anti-Orthodox Rockland County groups preferred. She will have authority to offer recommendations on the $3 million, not the entire school budget. And the school board, whose majority of Orthodox Jews represents the district’s make-up, can override her.
Yehuda Weissmandl, president of the school board, told Hamodia that he was “very happy” with the deal reached in Albany.
“The state is acknowledging that this is not a monitor issue but a funding issue,” Weissmandl said. “Hopefully we can build on it. But nonetheless this is the beginning of a recognition by the state that this district needs more money.”
Weissmandl said that the intention of lawmakers was to add to it in coming years, eventually reaching $5 million to $6 million a year.
The deal was agreed to Monday night and will be voted on by the Senate and Assembly on Thursday. The legislature is then scheduled to adjourn for the year, unless the governor calls for them to remain an additional day.
The East Ramapo saga began ten years ago, when the Orthodox community for the first time elected the majority of the nine-member school board. While the state uses property taxes to fund the public school system, the education budget also goes toward certain services for private schools. A burgeoning Jewish population has since caused funding for those private school services, which are mandated by the state, to skyrocket.
Currently, there are approximately 23,600 private school students in East Ramapo, compared to a public school population of fewer than 8,000 students. To pay for the state mandated services to private schools, the board was forced to reduce some nonessential services to public schools, such as art and dance classes, kindergarten, and physical education.