BY MICHAEL RICONDA
NEW CITY – Clarkstown’s Town Board came out in favor of proposed oversight for the East Ramapo School District, voting last Tuesday to officially endorse two legislative bills which aim to straighten out the district with the help of a state-appointed fiscal monitor.
The Clarkstown Town Board voted overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, which urges the State Legislature to pass Senate bill 3821 and its companion Assembly bill 5355. Supervisor Alex Gromack, Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner, Councilwoman Shirley Lasker and Councilman Frank Borelli all voted in favor.
The bills would allow the state education commissioner to appoint a fiscal monitor, who would sit as the 11th member of the fiscally-stressed district’s school board and help them craft a 5-year plan to alleviate East Ramapo’s financial troubles.
The proposals, which were designed and sponsored by Senator David Carlucci, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, would also give the monitor the power to veto school board decisions deemed unreasonable, though the board has the power to appeal those decisions before the education commissioner.
According to Town Supervisor Alexander Gromack, the bill would outline solutions to long-term problems in Clarkstown’s neighboring town while introducing transparency to the school district’s operations and mending rifts between public and private school families.
“As a former Assemblyman, I know it is very important to the success of this effort that we continue to demonstrate our strong support for this legislation sponsored by our state representatives,” Gromack said. “I firmly believe that by working together, as students, parents and elected leaders that we can return the East Ramapo School District to a premier educational system, where our children come first, not last.”
The state proposals have already seen widespread support among Rockland pols, including endorsements by County Executive Ed Day, who met with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and other prominent legislators in Albany to push for the bill. Though a formal legislative resolution has not yet been floated before the county legislature, 12 of 17 county legislators have signed onto a letter urging Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature to pass the bill.
Local opposition has also emerged within the legislature. County Legislator Aron Wieder of Spring Valley, who represents an area covered by the East Ramapo School District, has spearheaded the effort to counter the bills, which he has characterized as a state nullification of East Ramapo resident’s voter rights.