Suffern School Board and Budget Election

For Suffern Central School Board, we endorse Joseph Gravagna, Virgina Rourke, and Jason Andert, all of whom are firmly opposed to grade banding and the closure of any schools. The election is on Tuesday May 21st and polls are open from 6am to 9pm.

Here is a sample ballot:

Several years back Preserve Ramapo endorsed candidates in two consecutive school board elections, but the atmosphere became so contentious and divisive, that for the sake of harmony, we decided we would refrain from making such endorsements in the future. However, in light of the recent disastrous decision to restructure the Suffern Central School District, we feel we have no choice but to weigh in on this upcoming School Board Election.  

We believe the modified Princeton plan, aka grade banding, is a bad fit for Suffern Central and an existential threat to the viability of all the communities within. Montebello, Suffern, Hillburn and Sloatsburg are all thriving municipalities, with the cache to attract new residents due to their ethnic and cultural diversity, proximity to key transportation hubs, recreational opportunities, and access to downtown retail areas.  

However, these attributes alone are not enough. A strong public school system that inspires new families to put down roots is also a critical element of the prosperity equation.  Businesses factor in the quality of the public schools when they decide where to relocate because they know they can recruit and retain better talent if potential employees believe their children will enjoy a positive educational experience at the new work location. For decades the Suffern Central School District has provided western Ramapo with this essential ingredient for success.   

We now fear that the grade banding and school closure proposed for Suffern Central will tip the balance in the opposite direction and set our community on a course for decline and decay over the long term.  

Grade banding and the closure of Viola School will burden our elementary students with a convoluted busing schedule, and shuttle them back and forth from the far ends of the district on a daily basis. Families considering relocating to western Ramapo will recoil at the prospect of extended transportation times for their youngest children, and the specter of overcrowded schools. They will opt instead to settle down in New Jersey or other locales. Business and industry will do likewise.  

We think it is only fair to point out the apparent lack of due diligence in regards to the vote to restructure, on the part of the three board members up for reelection this year, Marlo Dickman, Daryl Frazier, and Jennifer Hodge.   To begin with, they made no mention of school closures or grade banding when they first ran for office. In addition, the results of a Foil request showed no communication between any board members and the Boston-based DM Consulting Group regarding the restructuring process. At the public hearing held on the plan, Dickman, Frazier and Hodge would not answer any questions posed by members of the public. During the discussion period prior to the vote approving the restructuring, they made no comment whatsoever explaining their vote, and simply sat silent throughout.  

Their refusal to offer any explanation or rationale for their highly consequential vote leaves the public with no choice but to wonder if there isn’t some hidden agenda behind it all that they are not at liberty discuss. This hands off, dismissive, approach sows confusion, apprehension, and dissension.   What we need now are new school board members that are vigilant, engaged, and transparent.   

This is precisely why we endorse Joseph Gravagna, Virginia Rourke, and Jason Andert who have pledged to meet the measure on this criteria and are strongly opposed to grade banding and any school closures.   

For the good of our community, please come out and vote for Andert, Gravagna and Rourke in this pivotal vote for the Suffern Central School Board. Once again the vote is on Tuesday May 21st, and polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm.  

There are five polling locations which are: 

Richard P. Connor Elementary School 

Cherry Lane Elementary School 

Sloatsburg Elementary School 

Suffern Middle School  

Suffern Central School District Administrative Offices in Hillburn 


If you want a lawn sign, please email Jason Andert at or

Joe Gravagna at, or call Joe at 917 476 9935.

Thank You Very Much, 

Michael Parietti 

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