Need for increased school aid major issue for North Rockland

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BY KATHY KAHN

Willow Grove Elementary School, North Rockland Central School District
Willow Grove Elementary School, North Rockland Central School District

North Rockland’s Central School District has made all the cuts it can make without hurting students, and teachers have given up portions of their raises to help defray the cost of the Mirant reassessment settlement made in 2007 and the subsequent downgrade of Bowline’s assessment again in 2014.

When the Bowline power plant in West Haverstraw successfully had its taxes reassessed, the Town of Haverstraw, its two villages, and the North Rockland School District, which is obligated to carry the $345 million load as a result of the Mirant settlement, were hit again with a budget crisis. The district had already been paying $11.5 million since the court order reducing Mirant’s assessment was finalized.

A petition is circulating to elected officials and has been already  signed by over 1,000 parents asks Gov. Andrew Cuomo and others representing the district to include it in the special legislation that set aside $19 million for those districts with Energy Plant assessment reductions and/or closures.

The petition also asks the NYS Legislature to pass recurring legislation to fund tax certiorari debt–$11,300,000 annually until 2036 to defray the cost of Mirant’s lowered assessment, restore Foundation Aid to full fund levels as per  the 2014 court order  and to reject Education Tax Credit proposals that divert funds from public schools.

The North Rockland Mirant Debt Relief advocates will hold a meeting with the community on Thursday, September 1, tentatively to be held at North Rockland High School starting at 7 p.m.  (In case of a change of venue, visit  www.nrdebtrelief.com)

“It’s a serious issue,” said PTA member Maureen Ksriz Muskoph. “We need to get the word out about the school district’s situation. We are hoping for a big turnout. This is a serious issue affecting all of us, especially our children.”

State legislators finally seem to be making some headway with the petition for relief, so stay tuned.

 

CORRECTION: The date of the next advocates meeting was originally misreported as August 25. The correct date is September 1.

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