Article by Andrew Mandel of Strong East Ramapo re the ERCSD Oversight Bill 7/4/16

Governor Cuomo has signed the East Ramapo oversight bill, affirming that the district indeed merits special attention to ensure all students receive the education they deserve.

The law authorizes the State Commissioner of Education to oversee the upcoming district budget to meet students’ needs. In addition, the Commissioner can either approve or deny the sales of public assets, capital contracts over $100,000 and reductions in restored programs.

The district will also be eligible for three million dollars in aid for the 2016-17 school year. Here’s what will happen, according to the law:

— “In order to receive such funds, the school district in consultation with the monitor or monitors shall develop a long term strategic academic and fiscal improvement plan within 6 months from the enactment of this act.” This step is already underway.

— “Such plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.”

— “The board of education of the East Ramapo central school district must conduct a public hearing on the expenditure plan and shall consider the input of the community before adopting such plan.”

— “The commissioner shall disburse the funds after receiving satisfactory evidence from the East Ramapo central school district that the district has complied with the approved comprehensive expenditure plan and spent such funds pursuant to the approved expenditure plan.”

More to come, but the acknowledgement from the Legislature and the Governor that East Ramapo needs state intervention to oversee its budget is an important part of rebuilding trust in our public institutions. While we will need to advocate for continued oversight and additional funds in the years to come (so these e-mail updates are far from over!), fixing the leaky pipe — even for one year, as a start — has been a critical priority in this journey to justice. Thank you to the lawmakers and advocates who made this milestone possible.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned through our advocacy, it’s that democracy is slow and hard. I cannot reiterate enough that we are not satisfied and we are not done. But I hope you’ll enjoy your fireworks a little bit more this time around.

– Andrew Mandel

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