East Ramapo Voters Defeat Budget, Vote in Chassidishe Resident


ramapo-school-boardFollowing a highly contentious election season, voters in the East Ramapo school district yesterday voted down a 2010-11 budget proposal of $198 million, rejecting a potential 10 percent tax increase and leaving the district with the option of accepting an austerity budget.

In voting for the one contested seat on the school board, residents elected Moshe Friedman of Spring Valley over Antonio Luciano of Chestnut Ridge, padding an already solid majority of frum men on the board.

The vote occurred a week before other school district votes to accommodate those celebrating Shavuos.

If the district were to move toward an austerity budget, additional staffing, programs and other cuts totaling about $5.6 million will be necessary, further depleting the resources of the already-strapped East Ramapo schools.

The announcement was made about 12:30 a.m. today. Cathy Russell, district clerk, said the results were delayed because a voting machine at Ramapo High School failed to record 575 of the community’s budget votes.

“Those votes are not enough to change the outcome of the election on the two propositions,” she said.

The spending plan, which represented a 2.85 percent spending increase over the current $193 million budget, contained significant cuts, including the loss of more than 100 full-time staff members and the closing of Hillcrest Elementary School. More than 50 teacher, teacher’s assistant and special-education assistant positions would have ben eliminated under the plan.

Ira Oustatcher, superintendent of schools, had asked the 12 unions in the district to accept a pay freeze, which he estimated would have saved millions of dollars, but the unions refused.

School board members Suzanne Young-Mercer and Stephen Price were unopposed on the ballot and maintained their seats.

Both sides aggressively campaigned before district voting closed at 10 p.m..

Volunteers from private- and public-school factions handed out leaflets or little cards pressing their positions and targeting their prospective voters outside polling stations. There are 10 polling places across the county’s largest and most diverse school district of 8,000 public-school students and 17,000 private-school students.

Outside the Lime Kiln Elementary School in Wesley Hills and Ramapo High School in New Hempstead, frum men handed out cards in English and Hebrew urging their voters to oppose the budget and a separate proposition earmarking $700,000 for 10 school buses.

Frum Jews choose to pay for private-school education for their children, but still pay taxes for public schools.

Pro-budget advocates – predominantly public-school parents unhappy with the proposed budget cuts – also canvassed voters, asking them to support the budget proposal, which, despite the extensive cuts, would have maintained educational programs, as well as sports, music and after-school clubs.

Outside of Ramapo High School, Hope Daley, the parent of two public-school children from Pomona, said she voted for the budget despite the drastic cuts included in the plan.

“Everything that’s in the budget – in order to save our music and sports programs – it’s all necessary,” she said Tuesday afternoon. “Voting ‘yes’ on the budget is the better of two evils.”

Peggy Hatton, an outspoken critic of the school board, said that more than 200 supporters of the public schools volunteered to register voters during the election season and worked Tuesday to assist those wishing to vote. She thanked the volunteers and said that while many public-school supporters had kept records of minor electioneering issues that would be presented to the district clerk at a later date, the election was held without major incident.

“We think the election process went well, but there were a few bumps in the road that we will cross tomorrow or the next day with the district,” she said.

Surrounded by supporters, Friedman introduced himself to fellow board members and shook hands with his opponent.

“I’m looking forward to working for the whole community,” he said.

Read more at The Journal News.

{The Journal News/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. “Frum Jews choose to pay for private-school education for their children, but still pay taxes for public schools.”

    They don’t “choose” anything of the sort. Any frum couple in the community who would “choose” to send their children to public school and learn with them privately would be ostracized from the community.

    This sometimes causes more harm than good. The untoward displays of wealth that frum high school girls display to each other is often more materialistic than what can be found in goyishe public (not private) schools.

    I feel that those of us who grew up frum, went to public school and learned with our fathers had a more solid foundation of frumkeit than many who are caught in closed communities today.

    Our problems resulted from wrong choices: b’chirah. Today’s problems result more from ignorance and lack of ability.

  2. “I feel that those of us who grew up frum, went to public school and learned with our fathers had a more solid foundation of frumkeit…”

    Yeah, those who grew up frum.