Hamodia 5/9/17: Yeshiva Administrators Encourage Voting for Non-Mandated Busing

 Hamodia – The daily newspaper of torah jewry

Tuesday, May 9, 2017 at 8:09 pm | י”ג אייר תשע”ז

NEW YORK – School board elections next week have suddenly taken on greater urgency for the yeshivah community in parts of Rockland County.

The vote next Tuesday comes a week after New York state’s education chief allowed the East Ramapo School Board to restore 14 days of busing for private schools on days when there is no public school. In exchange, the board was permitted to override the state’s mandated cap limiting tax increases by 1 percent.

The $232.6 million school budget for the district home to the Torah communities of Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square would add approximately $190 a year to the average property tax bill. If the district stayed within the 1.46 percent tax cap, however, the increase would be $120. A representative of the yeshivos said that the $70 difference is far less than the amount of money parents would have to pay to carpool on those days.

In addition, due to breaking the tax cap, district residents who have STAR exemptions would not be eligible for rebate checks this year.

Exceeding the tax cap, instituted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo six years ago, requires a 60 percent majority to pass.

Read more…

Journal News 4/28/17: ER Tax Cap Override Proposal

East Ramapo’s tax-cap busting calculation: Editorial

The East Ramapo school district’s proposed 2017-2018 budget plan would break the state’s tax cap and provide 14 days of non-mandated busing to private schools. Wochit

School leaders are banking on strong support from parents who want more private-school busing. But at what cost?

But it busts the property tax levy cap to do it. The district’s budget plan would hike taxes 2.49 percent, a full percentage point over the cap.

Read more…

Strong East Ramapo 5/8/17: ER Budget Hearing & Tax Cap Override

Hi there,
Please make every effort to attend and raise your voice at the East Ramapo Budget Hearing tonight (Monday, May 8) at the district headquarters (105 S. Madison), where the board and superintendent NEED to hear your feelings about the proposed tax-cap override and 14 days of non-mandated non-public busing. Friends and supporters of district residents are encouraged to join as well!  Arrive at 7 p.m. so you can get yourself on the speakers’ list.
While we know that everyone is entitled to make their own decision about the budget, our candidates will be voting NO for the following reasons:
— This is NOT the time to prioritize non-public non-mandated transportation over the educational necessities of public school families. Our students lack MANY basics after years of dramatic cuts, and agreeing to pay for extra busing at a time like this shortchanges the children who have no other option but public school.
— It is never appropriate to create a budget without the involvement of public school advocates.
— People who are scared to vote NO on the budget should know that the law allows the superintendent and the school board to create a second budget to put in front of voters in June. If the budget fails, the district needs to go back to the drawing board — with public school advocates — in order to restore critical educational services before focusing on non-mandated non-public wishes.
— This unreasonable budget is another reason why we MUST elect public school parents — Allie, Chevon and Eric — to the board.
Thanks, everyone,

5/6/17 Commissioner Elia’s reverses her earlier rejection of East Ramapo’s budget proposal for 2017-18

Oscar Cohen writes:

Commissioner Elia rejected the Board’s initial budget proposal on learning it had concealed five days of non-mandated transportation for non-public schools on days public schools are closed. She then reversed herself and approved a budget that included fourteen days of non-mandated transportation for non-public schools. (Additional public school education services were also added). Her decision was apparently based upon the Board president’s commitment to turn out the non-public school community to vote for an override to the NY State tax cap.

Many in the community, including the NAACP, are upset over the apparent furtive action between the Commissioner and Board president resulting in fourteen non-mandated non-public school transportation days being approved after the Commissioner had rejected the budget when it contained five days.

Last year’s East Ramapo legislation requires the Commissioner to expand educational programming “to the greatest extent possible.” Commissioner Elia’s conclusion, just a week earlier, that prioritizing even five days of non-mandated transportation would be highly inappropriate struck many by surprise and has created significant turmoil.



NAACP appreciation (4/26) to Commissioner for rejecting 5 days non-mandated, non-public schools

NAACP critical (4/27) of Commissioner Elia’s reversal of budget decision

Commissioner’s rejection of budget with 5 days non-mandated, non-public school transportation

Commissioner’s approval of budget with 14 days non-mandated non-public school transportation

Link: Andrew Mandel’s Journal News Opinion—


Trotman to Elia Nonmandated Bus Service 4-27-17

Trotman to Commissioner re Rejection of ER Budget 4-25-17

Letter Elia to Weissmandl re budget 04-21-17

Letter Weissmandl to Elia re nonmandated transportation 04-21-17

Strong East Ramapo 5/5/17: Brega Bus Contract Off The Ballot

Hi there,

Three BIG updates:

Bye Brega! Happy to report that Steve White extensively researched, wrote and filed an appeal with the state about the inappropriate Brega bus contract. The district backed off, and the contract is off the ballot. Well done, Steve!

Fantastic Forum! The Candidates Forum, run by NAACP/JAMCCAR at the Kurtz Center, was a success! Our candidates’ opponents were no-shows, but one attendee described Allie, Chevon and Eric as “thoughtful, strong, informed, fair, passionate and inspired.” Great work, candidates!

Regents Request!  I submitted a letter to the New York State Board of Regents, calling for them to issue a vote of no confidence in Commissioner Elia, and a version was published on LoHud today.  The Commissioner unilaterally created a deal with the school board president that, contrary to our budget protection law passed in 2016, fully restored non-mandated non-public busing while leaving many slashed public school programs and staff still in limbo. It was important to make it known that this is not the way to handle our budget.

Know that I do not put myself out there like this without recognizing the risks, but ultimately deciding that could not go seriously unaddressed. I shared a draft with those attending our strategy meeting this week for feedback, who showed their support, and then received co-signatures from the major East Ramapo advocacy organizations. We stand together.

Event countdown. The election is in 12 days:

— Saturday, May 6 at 2:30 p.m. at the Mt. Ivy Park and Ride to door-knock
— Monday, May 8 at 7 p.m. at 105 S. Madison for the budget hearing
— Saturday, May 13 at 4:30 p.m. at the New Hillcrest Fire House to volunteer
— Monday, May 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Memorial Park for our Election Eve Block Party
— Tuesday, May 16 for Election Day! This is it!


May 16: School Board Election
website: www.strongeastramapo.org
facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/strongeastramapo
twitter: StrongERamapo

Strong East Ramapo 5/3/17: Meeting with Chuck Szuberla & JOhn Sipple about ER Budget Blackmail

Hi everyone,

Tonight, a group of us met with Monitors Chuck Szuberla and John Sipple for nearly two hours, asking tons of questions and, one by one, declaring our strong opposition for “budget blackmail,” created without consultation of public school advocates and without sensitivity to the historic distrust in the community. We rejected the argument that this “deal” could create more opportunities for public school students in 2018-19, since nothing is guaranteed in future years and trust is in short supply in Spring Valley. We demanded and were promised a list of what mandated services still aren’t being provided to public school students, what a contingency budget would prioritize cutting, and what bus runs would be financed. We concluded the meeting by telling the monitors that they and the Commissioner are not serving the people they were assigned to protect.

The folks who attended our strategy meeting afterward almost unanimously said they cannot bring themselves to support a budget created behind closed doors that restores all non-mandated private school busing while leaving public school students without full restoration of services. If this budget fails, Dr. Wortham could technically put a second budget up for a vote before going to contingency, which we intend to request. Monday night’s budget hearing (please arrive at 7 p.m. at 105 S. Madison) is going to be intense.


Times Union 5/9/17: NY State Memorializes Police Who Died From 9/11

Sept. 11 terror attacks still claiming lives

State memorializes largest group of fallen police officers since 9/11
Updated 6:16 pm, Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul shakes the hand of Sarah Pratt, the daughter of fallen Trooper Timothy Pratt, during a memorial service Tuesday for law enforcement officers who have died as a result of work-related issues. Photo: Emily Masters / Times Union

ALBANY — Sixty police officers died in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001. In the 16 years since the terror attacks, 144 more officers have died from illnesses tied to Ground Zero search and recovery.

Last year was the deadliest for the New York City Police Department, with 33 officers dying from 9/11-related illnesses.

“Each year, it’s growing and growing,” said NYPD Deputy Chief Thomas Burns. “Apparently we had a peak, and hopefully the trend goes down after this year, but we won’t know. … It’s in the back of everyone’s mind that something that happened 16 years ago is affecting us more now.”

 Thirty-eight of the 40 fallen officers remembered at the state’s annual police memorial ceremony Tuesday afternoon were Sept. 11 casualties — the largest group to be honored since the attacks.

Sprectrum News NY1 5/16/17: More Police Officers Dying of 9/11 Related Illnesses

More NYPD Officers Dying from Impact of 9/11 Attacks

By Dean Meminger
Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 01:35 AM EDT

The impact of the 9/11 terror attacks is hitting the NYPD hard as more officers continue to die. NY1 Criminal Justice Reporter Dean Meminger was at a ceremony Friday for the fallen heroes and has the details.

An increasing number of NYPD officers are dying from cancer and other illnesses contracted from working amid the rubble of the World Trade Center after the September 11th attacks.

In the last year, more have died than in any previous year. On Friday, those men and women were saluted for their sacrifice.

“Today, we honor 33 officers who passed away after service at Ground Zero,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in remarks at the ceremony Friday.

“They did everything they could to rescue their brother and sister officers and civilians,” de Blasio continued. “They did everything they could to help this city recover.”

Read more…

NY Daily News 4/25/17: Dying 9/11 Officer Supports Assisted Suicide Bill

9/11 hero who died of cancer wanted New York State lawmakers to legalize assisted suicide

ALBANY — A 9/11 hero’s dying wish is that others don’t suffer the same agonizing death he did.

Jay Kallio — a trained paramedic who volunteered at Ground Zero — spent the weeks before his death making videos urging state legislators to legalize physician assisted suicide.

Saying he was terrified of dying in excruciating pain, Kallio in one video pleaded, “I would ask you, look into your heart and try to see we who need your mercy now to save us from a horrifying death. Thank you.”

Read more…


Journal News 4/27/17: ER Board Seeks Tax Cap Override for Budget Approval

East Ramapo seeks tax cap override for budget

Tax hike would only appear on ballot if state education commissioner approves it.

The East Ramapo school board has proposed a 2.49 percent tax hike to restore some extracurricular programs, hire five new teachers and provide busing for private school students on days when district schools are off.

But, the spending plan’s tax increase will require approval by 60 percent of voters should this version of the budget make it to ballots on May 16 since state law requires districts pitching budgets with tax levies above the cap to obtain a supermajority.

Although an attempt to override the state’s tax cap wasn’t originally part of the plan this year, district officials were sent back to the drawing board April 21 after state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia rescinded her earlier approval of the budget.

Read more…