East Ramapo school budget passes on second vote

“In East Ramapo, the re-vote went through with 1,245 voting yes and 1,082 voting no, according to unofficial results accepted by the school board a little past midnight.

East Ramapo’s original and revised budget plans set spending at $331 million, and tapped reserve funds to make ends meet.

May’s rejected plan had sought a 1.99% tax levy hike. The school board then proposed a tax levy increase of 1% in June, tapping more reserves to make up the difference.

Even a 1% tax levy increase was a big ask in East Ramapo, where voters have over the past decade rejected any budget that builds in a tax levy increase.

East Ramapo: Low resources, high tensions Repeated rejections of budget plans have left East Ramapo’s funding out of balance with growing public- and private-school populations’ needs. Community tensions continue to grow, with hundreds of public-school families attending recent school board meetings to demand an investment in their kids’ education.

Some 96% of about 10,500 public-school students in East Ramapo are children of color. More than half are English language learners. About 14.8% of East Ramapo’s public school students are considered homeless, a larger percentage than in New York City schools or any other district in the Lower Hudson Valley.

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Another 30,000-plus kids who live within district boundaries attend private schools, mostly yeshivas that serve the Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish community.

The majority of school board members are men who are seen in the public school community as favoring yeshiva students’ needs. The cost, critics say, is a public-education system starved of resources and stripped of education quality.

Even with Tuesday’s approval, district and state officials have repeatedly warned that the district faces a “fiscal cliff” and its dwindling credit rating has hampered needed borrowing. Costs are increasing, especially for the district’s complex transportation system that is responsible for getting kids to 14 public schools and hundreds of private schools.

Public-school test scores are among the lowest in the state. The district will be without a superintendent by month’s end after the school board failed to renew Superintendent Clarence Ellis’ contract.”

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