Monday, April 04, 2016
A slate of four East Ramapo school board challengers petitioning to be on May's ballot said Saturday they support restoring all-day kindergarten, want to see a safe school environment, more extra-curricular opportunities and to curb the cuts in staff.
"I'm just really concerned about what's happening now," said one of the challengers, Jean Fields, a retired high school principal who has lived in East Ramapo about 26 years. Her two sons graduated from East Ramapo.
The four candidates are Fields, Kim Foskew, Natashia Morales and Sabrina Charles-Pierre. Charles-Pierre, was appointed to the school board last year and must run again in May to keep her seat.
"I'd like to see full-day kindergarten restored. I'd like to see the schools safe and secure and the facilities well maintained," Fields said.
Fields said that in her time in the district she saw students go to some of the best universities. "Many of them are professionals now, and if they had had to put up with what we're going through now in the schools, they wouldn't' have made it," she said.
There are four seats on East Ramapo's Board of Education open for reelection on May 17. Three-year terms for three current members — Pierre C. Germain, Bernard L. Charles, Jr. and board President Yehuda Weissmandel — run out this year.
Charles-Pierre, who was appointed last year when Juan Pablo Ramirez resigned from the board, must campaign to retain her seat.
The challengers described their priorities at a news conference outside the Spring Valley Police Station.
Another challenger, Foskew, whose children graduated from East Ramapo schools in 2009 and 2011, said the district has more recently experienced cuts in social workers, assistant principals and teaching assistants.
"I see the discrepancy between the education they received and the education the children of East Ramapo are currently receiving," Foskew said. "And I, as well as my running mates, would like to ensure that all children receive the education they deserve and are entitled to."
Rockland lawmakers pursued legislation meant to obtain revenue and a state monitor's oversight of the troubled district, but they said the effort failed to get into the state budget. One assemblyman has said there may be a chance to try again, post-budget.
The Journal News has reported that the district's Board of Education is currently largely made up of Hasidic and Orthodox men whose children attend private schools. State-appointed experts have authored two reports that criticized the board of mismanagement. The reports also recommended a monitor who would have authority to veto school board decisions.
Another of the challengers for the board, Morales, who graduated from East Ramapo in 2003, said she has a child in pre-K and another in first grade in the district.
"We want our kids to be competitive -- we strive and try to influence them as much as possible to stay competitive," Morales said. She noted that are efforts to outsource after-school programs -- a couple of people she knows are trying to provide extra-curricular a in dance and music, for example.
Sabrina Charles-Pierre said, "We see what's been going on" and she felt pretty certain there are facilities that would be willing to give their time to provide students with things such as extra help for homework.
"I mean, it's a team effort," Charles-Pierre said.
Each candidate needs at least 234 signatures to be on the ballot, and they were slated to canvass on Saturday. April 18 is the deadline to make the ballot. Foskew expressed confidence they will have the signatures.
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