Wednesday, December 07, 2016

East Ramapo voters approve $58M capital bond 

Voters in the East Ramapo School District approved a $58 million capital projects bond on Tuesday that will give some much-needed attention to aging infrastructure.

According to unofficial results released around 11:45 p.m., 1,641 voters were in favor of the bond, while 375 were against it. The second proposition on the ballot, which sought approval to borrow $1,127,920 from the state to replace windows and doors at Kakiat and Fleetwood elementary schools also passed with 1,651 votes.

School Board President Yehuda Weissmandl praised the community for coming together "to move the district in the right direction.

"The funds from this bond act will have tangible benefits for our students, our teachers and our taxpayers. With roof replacements and renovations, window replacements, new boilers and heating for our school buildings as well as upgrades to our athletic fields, students district-wide will soon be learning in a much improved environment," he said in a statement.

The board president also said district officials will work with the state-appointed monitors and state Education Department "to see these improvements through in a timely and cost efficient manner."

Turnout throughout the day at the district's 10 polling locations was low, poll workers at several sites told The Journal News/lohud early Tuesday evening. With two hours to go before the polls closed at 10 p.m., poll workers chit chatted, sipped coffee and read magazines to pass the time.

It was much lighter than what the district usually sees for the annual school budget vote. An average of 10,330 people voted in the budget vote over the last four years, district data shows. On Tuesday, 2,032 registered voters cast ballots, according to the unofficial results.

"This is a good sign," one poll worker said to another worker as he gestured around the empty gymnasium at Summit Park Elementary School. As of 8 p.m., around 250 people had cast ballots at the location, which is less than seven percent of registered voters.

After voting, Manny Konstantinidis said he supported the two propositions on the ballot. Although his two small children are not yet school-aged, they will be entering the East Ramapo school system within a few years, he said.

"Anything that will help the schools, we need to do it," he said.

Jamila Grampus, a 2008 graduate of Ramapo High School, said she voted in favor of the bonds.

"I recently attended my younger sister's senior volleyball game at Ramapo High School and the appearance of the gym was appalling; nothing had changed since I graduated ... and in fact it has continued to deteriorate, as can be expected, with passing generations of students," Grampus said.

After pointing out the contrast between well-maintained gymnasiums at schools like Suffern High School or Clarkstown North High School, Grampus said, "In a sense it implies that East Ramapo students are not deserving or less important. Is that the message we want to send to our youth who are leaders of tomorrow? Something has got to change."


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