Friday, December 25, 2015

Look ahead: East Ramapo 

Cue the shaking heads and rolling eyes.

As it moves into 2016, East Ramapo is wrestling with dilemmas remarkably similar to those it faced a year ago.

A state oversight team just recommended the installation of a monitor with the power to veto school board decisions. Last year the monitor was Hank Greenberg, this year it is Dennis Walcott & Co., who offered 18 other recommendations including an infusion of up to $15 million in new state funding for the 2016-17 school year.

As the state legislature convenes on January 11, look for another six months of political wrangling to get a monitor bill passed. Also to be debated: the monitor’s request for a law to ensure the public school community is represented on the board.

Walcott also recommended an independent election monitor, which would have plenty of work leading up to the district's May school board elections. Voters will cast ballots in May for the seats held by board president Yehuda Weissmandl, Bernard Charles and Pierre Germain. Winners take their seats on July 1. The remaining two years of the seat held by Sabrina Charles-Pierre, who was appointed in November, will be on the ballot.  That winner will begin immediately after the election.

We will know by late April or early May who the board will appoint to be permanent superintendent. Interim Superintendent Deborah Wortham wants the gig. Her tenure will expire on June 30.

Look for news about the private schools in East Ramapo, particularly the Hasidic yeshivas.  A recently filed class-action civil rights lawsuit accusing education officials of failing to provide boys with a sound, basic education will pick up steam. The public interest firm Advocates for Justice is tweaking the complaint and will serve defendants early in the new year. The issue will be debated in the legislature as well.  Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, D-New City, has a drafted bill to help the state to enforce the legal standard of “substantial equivalence” that is supposed to guarantee a sound education to private school students. Senator David Carlucci, D-Rockland/Westchester is supporting it in the Senate.

New legislation must be passed by June 16, the last day of the scheduled session.


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