“Eight public school in East Ramapo have been identified as troubled, up from five last year, according to a report issued Friday by the state Department of Education. All districts in Rockland were found to be in overall good standing except East Ramapo, which was given a focus designation for the second consecutive year. Chestnut Ridge Middle School was given the lowest designation â€” priority. It received the highest designation the year before. Other East Ramapo schools identified by the state as in need of more accountability include Ramapo High School, which was in good standing last year, and Spring Valley High School, which is a focus school for a second year.Read the full text of the Journal News report here.
State education commissioner’s visit highlights improvements in troubled district, underscores need for oversight
“Elia’s day-long visit (and the fact that all three state-appointed monitors were at her side during the three-school tour) sent a clear message that deep concerns remain in East Ramapo and that the state Education Department is committed to long-term involvement. During a subsequent interview with the Editorial Board, Elia doubled down on her support for state legislation that would install a monitor, with strong oversight abilities, in the uniquely troubled district. Asked what she would do if the state Legislature will not install such a monitor, she said that the Education Department will continue to monitor the district to the extent that it can.” Read the full text of the editorial here.
“A leaking roof at Ramapo High School can be replaced using $1 million in emergency state funds, but critics of the troubled East Ramapo school district say the fix is a short-term solution to a bigger problem.Parents and students have been complaining for years about the deteriorating condition of district buildings. [Read more…]
On January 14, parents of public school children in East Ramapo Central School District filed a petition in State Supreme Court in Albany, asking the court to direct the New York State Board of Regents and the State Education Department (SED) to take concrete remedial action to safeguard their children’s right to a sound basic education as guaranteed by the New York State Constitution. [Read more…]
“The East Ramapo school board voted late Tuesday to rehire a powerful Albany lobbying firm that helped defeat an initial plan for a state monitor to oversee the troubled district. The vote came after an hour-long executive session that didn’t end until most people in the audience had left. The vote was made with no discussion. All board members voted in favor except for Sabrina Charles-Pierre, who abstained. [Read more…]
Community View–The Journal News by Bruce Levine December 30, 2015
Fix state aid, find more revenue for education, respect freedom of religion issues. But East Ramapo school board still needs a monitor, with veto power
Dennis Walcott, who led an East Ramapo monitor team appointed by the state education commissioner, recently issued a report that, like a previous report by fiscal monitor Hank Greenberg, called for passage of state legislation that would create a strong state monitor for the troubled school district. [Read more…]
“Senate Majority leader, Flanagan is blocking legislation that passed the NY State Assembly, and that Governor Cuomo has said he would sign. This legislation is a compromise bill, which instead of removing the board and taking over the district would simply speed up the process of oversight by the State Education Department. Senator Flanagan thinks the history of failure to hold the East Ramapo school board accountable is proof that they don’t need more oversight. I think he is wrong, and I hope he will change his mind.
Here is a proof that more oversight is needed:
The East Ramapo school board tried to use the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) as an excuse to use public funds to pay tuition in private religious schools. The NY State Dept. of Education (NYSED) found this was a violation of federal and New York state laws and regulations. The NYSED findings were upheld by the New York State Supreme Court and the NY Court of Appeals. Since the excuse of following the IDEA was invalid, transferring taxpayer funds to private religious schools was a violation of the fiduciary responsibility of the board. [Read more…]
Global Credit Research – 21 Dec 2015 New York, December 21, 2015 — Summary Rating Rationale
Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed the Baa2 rating of East Ramapo Central School District, NY’s $10.9 million in outstanding general obligation debt secured by an unlimited tax pledge. The outlook remains negative.
The Baa2 rating reflects ongoing weakness in the district’s financial position, despite recent improvement. Given its limited liquidity, the district is a regular issuer of cash flow notes to fund operations. The rating also incorporates the district’s substantial tax base, average wealth levels, and minimal debt burden with rapid amortization of principal. [Read more…]
By Yochonon Donn on Hamodia.com
Efforts to impose a state override on an Orthodox- majority school district has anti-Semitic overtones and we’re not doing it, the leader of the New York State Senate told an Agudath Israel of America gathering.
John Flanagan, the upper chamber’s majority leader, said at the Lawrence event Thursday night that installing a veto-empowered monitor at the East Ramapo school board was both unconstitutional and unprecedented in the state. [Read more…]
Robert I. Rhodes Community View in The Journal News
Re “‘Opportunity Deferred’: 19 reforms for E. Ramapo,” Dec. 14 article:
The East Ramapo school board needs a monitor with veto power to protect it from its own constituency. For years, the school board did everything possible to hold down taxes and provide its own Hasidic community with universal busing and appropriate education for its special education students while it told its constituents that any complaints coming from the public school community were unfair and motivated by anti-Semitism.
This message had no real costs for the religious community until national media got involved, clergy organized and went to Albany to complain and the lawsuit of public school parents against the school board progressed to the point where it has become a real threat.
Finally there was also the realization that the deferred maintenance on school buildings could no longer be ignored but a $40 million bond for school maintenance proposed by the board could not survive withering criticism.
Until now, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sat on his hands knowing that while the monitor bill might pass in the Democratic New York Assembly his Republican allies in the Senate would kill the bill.
It will be interesting to see if New York State’s large and growing Hasidic community will allow a real monitor bill to pass in the Senate. In the meantime let us hope that our East Ramapo school board will work to get us out of the hole it created. We must all work together to save our schools.
The writer is chairman of Preserve Ramapo.