By Yehuda Weissmandl, president of the East Ramapo Central School District’s Board of Education
We have come a long way as a community. This year alone we passed a balanced budget that expanded arts and reading, approved by voters in May. Shortly thereafter, we secured an additional $3 million from the State so that we could institute full day Kindergarten, further expand our arts and music enrichment programs and hire more bilingual teachers. Working with the community, the State monitors and the State Education Department (SED), we implemented these programmatic changes and additions for the fall school year. It was a testament to what we can do when we all work together.
We need to improve our public-school buildings and grounds for the students who attend them. The buildings are old and in need of renovation. There are leaking roofs and unreliable heating systems that require immediate attention. There are bleachers that need to be replaced so that parents and students can support their schools’ sports teams with pride. The public-school grounds need to be made as safe as possible for our students. The school buildings need to be updated so that they are places of learning that students are excited and honored to attend.
We all want the best for all our children. That is why I personally support, and hope, that all concerned citizens in our District vote in favor of the Capital Improvements Bond referendum on Tuesday, December 6.
Schools in our district have gone too long without critical maintenance work and it is up to us to deliver. And, we’re not alone in that thinking. In the last report from the State monitors, infrastructure improvement was listed as one of their top recommendations.
By bonding the infrastructure projects out over a long period, it dramatically reduces the tax impact to a minimum while keeping the educational programs intact. In addition, the district can get significant State aid on projects financed through a bond act. With a bond act in place, we will continue to work as a community, along with the State monitors, the SED and our local State legislative delegation, to ensure the best possible outcomes in our children’s education experience.
The success of the referendum is essential to making these improvements to the public schools a reality. We need an influx of funding to make these important investments. If approved, the bond referendum will make more than $58 million available for this renovation effort, all of which will be used to make the public schools in East Ramapo better, safer, and more conducive to learning. It is therefore critical that the voters in East Ramapo vote YES on December 6.
The students in our community are the ones who will benefit from the improvements to our public schools, and they are the ones who will suffer if the bond referendum fails. Keeping the school district in financial distress and the schools in disrepair is not an option. Our children deserve better. I urge you to join me, and vote YES on December 6. Encourage your friends, families, and neighbors to do the same. Let’s do what is right for our children, and for the entire East Ramapo community.
From the author: I serve as president of the East Ramapo Central School District’s Board of Education, but I write this in my private capacity, as a citizen and a taxpayer. This is not written on behalf of the Board.