Recap of East Ramapo School Board Meeting 9/7/16

Strong East Ramapo sent out the following note regarding the Sept. 7 ER school board meeting:

Here’s a recap of tonight’s public hearing, in case you couldn’t make it:
1. RASP LEASE APPROVED — After discussing the Rockland After School Program (RASP) in executive session, the East Ramapo School Board approved the RASP lease agreement tonight — at a much more reasonable rate than in the past. Executive Director Triny Hertzberg now faces the challenge of communicating with families and bringing back staff she had let go after a summer with no news. Need to speak with RASP? You can call (845) 577-6141 during school hours.

2. $3M PLAN — Monitor Chuck Szuberla said tonight he would “move heaven and earth” to bring full-day kindergarten for all students, plus restored arts programs, back to East Ramapo by September 26. Perhaps to put a fine point on it, he and Commissioner Elia are holding a public meeting on September 28 at RCC, which they likely would not announce unless they were confident they’d be hearing from happier parents.

He and Superintendent Wortham received many questions, including the future of full-day K and the arts after 2016-17. Szuberla, who noted his years of experience securing funds for the troubled Roosevelt School District on Long Island, said that, if East Ramapo followed procedures regarding the $3 million in state aid closely and provided strong financial modeling of the continued need, the Legislature would be inclined to re-authorize funding next year and beyond.

It was great to see a new crop of parents at the meeting. Different speakers raised a number of concerns about confusion during today’s first day of school, citing lack of schedules, lack of information about where students were attending to school, and bus routes that were an hour late in bringing children home. Szuberla earned points from the crowd after summarizing one parent’s concerns and affirming them.

Indeed, tonight represented a notable shift from board meetings of two years ago, when we heard our former superintendent shrug his shoulders and say that we did not have certain programs because they were not mandated by the state — and assert that aspiring for the same outcomes as neighboring districts was inappropriate because our students are from low-income backgrounds. Tonight, the monitor and the superintendent said that they want district students to be college and career ready and to rival high-performing schools. While it remains to be seen whether Szuberla and Wortham can secure what’s necessary to restore the former glory of East Ramapo, the sentiment itself is a welcome change in my book.

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