BY KATHY KAHN
Armed with a petition totaling over 10,000 signatures, North Rockland Debt Relief advocates went to Albany to let Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYS Legislators know they need help and they need it now.
The team was led by Superintendent of Schools Ileana Eckert; North Rockland Teachers’ Association member Debra Brennan; NR PTA Council member Ida Manine; North Rockland Board of Ed member Debbie Gatti; Maureen Ksiez-Muskoph North Rockland Mirant Debt Relief & NR PTA; Mike Senno, Assistant Superintendent for Business; Miggy Lopez, Director of ESL and Bilingual Services; Thiells Elementary School Principal Peter Dibernardi; and Suzanne Tiso, Vice President of the North Rockland PTA Council.
Attending the meeting from Governor Cuomo’s office were Josh Rousseau, Cuomo’s Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs and Jere Hochman, NY Deputy Secretary of Education and other interested parties.
“We were encouraged by our meeting with the Governor’s team and want to send out a special thank you to Assemblymen Ken Zebrowski and James Skoufis for setting up and attending this important meeting,” Ksiez-Muskoph said.
“Our presentation was full of passion and pride. We were prepared and gave a thorough review [that] stressed the uniqueness of our situation. Cuomo’s team was attentive and fully engaged.” The 10,263 signatures on our petition visibly impressed them, she said.
“I believe they were hearing what we were saying for the first time and they could be seen taking frequent notes. As we moved through the presentation, they seemed to understand the gravity of the situation facing our school district. The meeting was scheduled to last 30 minutes, but we ran well over that and were ultimately in the meeting for about an hour,” added Ksiez-Muskoph.
The North Rockland Debt Relief group is awaiting feedback from the state, and all who took part in the meeting are hoping for future collaboration with Albany to resolve the school district’s financial crisis. The NRDR members expect to hold another public meeting in the near future to keep the public updated on what’s happening as soon as a response is received from the state capitol.
The North Rockland Social Studies students and department created the following YouTube presentation. Please visit NRCSD Debt Relief Student Video to view.