“With two-and-a-half weeks to go before schools open in East Ramapo, it’s still not yet known if a beloved after-school program will be saved in time for the kids whose parents planned to send them after classes let out each day.
The Rockland After School Program (RASP) has served thousands of children since being launched in 1983 by offering them a place to hang out with friends, play games or get a jump start on homework. However, the program is no longer permitted to use the two rooms it leased from the district at Kakiat Elementary School after Executive Director Triny Hertzberg did not pay the rent.
Hertzberg has since let some of her staff go and notified the nearly 30 families who had registered that the program is indefinitely on hold.
On Tuesday evening, at the school board meeting, East Ramapo Superintendent Deborah Wortham said officials are working to find a way to keep the Rockland After School Program available to local families and are “in negotiations” with Hertzberg. The superintendent called RASP “an integral part of the school district” and a program they’d like “to keep intact.”
Becky Goldenthal, a Suffern mother whose daughter went through RASP last year, urged the board to do whatever it could.
“It is an important part of the school district. Families here desperately need RASP,” said the Suffern mother, who explained that her daughter, who has special needs, had a positive experience thanks to staffers who encouraged the young girl “to socialize with typical children.”
The school board, which has had a majority of Orthodox Jewish men for more than a decade, has cut hundreds of staff positions and dropped many programs, while increasing spending on legal bills, out-of-district special education classes and busing to private schools.”
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