The NY State Assembly passed Bill 5355, which would take the unprecedented step of imposing a state monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School Board, with power to veto decisions made by the board.
Critics of the bill said it was undemocratic to undermine the authority of elected officials on the board. Supporters said the board didn’t truly represent the community and treated public-school students unfairly through drastic budget cuts.
Some 9,000 children are in East Ramapo public schools, and most are poor and black or Latino. Meanwhile, about 24,000 students attend private religious schools, which received fast-rising sums of taxpayer money for busing and special-needs services.
The unique demographic profile of the East Ramapo School District, where approximately 70% of the district’s school children attend nonpublic schools, has caused it to be underfunded under the current state funding formula. With insufficient state funding, and with firm obligation under state law to provide certain services to the district’s large and growing nonpublic school population, the board has been forced to make painful funding decisions with respect to non-mandated extra-curricular services in the public schools.
The bill needs to pass in the State Senate.
(Chaim Shaprio – YWN)