“East Ramapo’s school board on Tuesday night announced the appointment of Clarence Ellis as schools superintendent of the district starting in July.
Ellis is currently superintendent of New York City Department of Education Community School District 17 in Brooklyn, which serves more than 15,000 students in 32 schools.
“I’m looking board forward to meeting you again in person,” said board President Yehuda Weissmandl during a ZOOM meeting that was streamed live via the district’s Youtube channel.
“I’m moved, I’m touched, I’m grateful and I’m humbled,” said Ellis, a 35-year educator. “I’m committed to helping all the students of the East Ramapo school district.”
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Ellis said he observed the board’s meeting and complimented the board’s process as a “well-oiled machine.” He said: “I hope I can just augment that and supplement it.”
He was hired after a year-long search. Interim Superintendent Raymond Giamartino has led the district since September 2020, having been hired for a one-year stint after the resignation of Deborah Wortham, who had served as superintendent for five years.
Ellis has been superintendent of NYC’s District 17 since 2014. About 75% of the district’s student body is Black or African American and 16% are Latino or Hispanic.
East Ramapo’s 8,834 public-school student body is 30% Black and 62% Hispanic or Latino. Some 37% are English language learners and 18% are classified as students with disabilities.
But in East Ramapo, more than two-thirds of school-age children who live in the district don’t go to the public schools. About 27,000 attend private schools, mostly Orthodox Jewish yeshivas.
The lopsided enrollment and voting power among the private-school community has fed tensions and tight budgets for East Ramapo’s public schools.
Giamartino during Tuesday’s meeting also detailed East Ramapo’s $272.45 million spending plan for the 2021-22 academic year. The budget plan is significantly higher than the current $245.7 million budget but, thanks to federal and state aid, would not hike taxes for property owners.
East Ramapo’s budget plan would preserve current programs and add social workers, something that Giamartino said was key in the wake of the COVID pandemic.”
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