East Ramapo parents rally in Albany for fiscal monitor

Hundreds of Rockland County parents are back in Spring Valley after rallying in Albany Tuesday in support of a bill that would appoint a state monitor to oversee the East Ramapo School District.

About 350 parents, teachers, community leaders and children boarded buses earlier in the day in order to meet with state legislators throughout the day in the hope of getting the East Ramapo oversight bill passed.

The proposed bill comes after the release of a state report that pointed out numerous mismanagement problems within the school district, such as unrealistic revenue projections and inaccurate budget estimates.

School board officials blame many of the problems on a state school-funding formula, claiming it doesn't provide adequate resources.

Another concern is the alleged dominance of members of the Orthodox and Hasidic community on the school board. Some critics say the board has made decisions that hurt public schools while taking steps to help their religious schools.

But a rabbi who was among the leaders of the protest says the issue transcends religion.

Legislation establishing the monitor has been languishing in Albany, but protest organizers hope they were able to spur lawmakers to act. If the bill is passed and a state monitor is appointed, that monitor would have far-reaching powers, including overriding the decisions of the board and the superintendent.

Coincidentally, the school district issued a release Tuesday morning on the proposed budget for next year. That budget restores more than $1 million cut from previous years. The budget goes to the voters on May 19.

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