Legislative Advocacy Update

Two letter writing campaigns have addressed the legislation currently being written in response to the fiscal monitors recommendations.

StrongEastRamapo urges lawmakers to write a law that includes “strong state intervention for East Ramapo”. Many people wrote, asking the state to empower a monitor with the authority to: direct the superintendent proactively to take actions necessary to ensure an excellent education for the children of East Ramapo, not just reactively veto the poor decisions of the board; and to be able to dismiss the superintendent if he fails standard performance reviews, and to hire a new one. If you have not participated yet, please do so now!

Power of Ten also has a letter addressing the financial crisis which the fiscal monitor described. The monitor recommended more state funding, but did not make any statement about what the source or mechanism should be. Our analysis led to our recommendation to amend the Contract for Excellence law which provided extra funding to high-need districts. The money would only be available for approved uses, such as providing full day kindergarten or reducing class sizes. East Ramapo is not currently eligible, that is why we are asking the lawmakers to amend the law to allow East Ramapo to be added.

Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski has replied to those who participated in the Power of Ten letter writing campaign.

He wrote:

Thank you for writing my office regarding funding for the East Ramapo School District and the Contracts for Excellence Program.

The Contracts for Excellence were accountability measures that were placed upon school districts that received increased funding in 2007. These accountability measures provided oversight over the allocation of increased funds. To my knowledge, this program remains in place for most districts that received funding in 2007 but is not a recurring program that school districts are added to.

Please be assured that one of my top priorities for the upcoming legislative session is passing a bill with appropriate oversight over the East Ramapo School District. I am currently in the process of working with my Rockland colleagues to develop a bill that can be introduced within the next couple weeks. In conjunction with this oversight we will be working to significantly increase State Aid to the district in order to protect and restore programs for the students. The mechanism for that increase is being discussed and researched amongst the Rockland delegation and will likely be debated over the next several months. The final product will hopefully be secured in the next State Budget which must be passed on April 1st.

Thank you again for your email and suggestion regarding the Contracts for Excellence program. I will continue to research this program, and others, as we address the need for State oversight and increased funding.


Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski

A Power of Ten reader wrote back to the Assemblyman:

Dear Assemblyman Zebrowski,

Thank you for your reply. I understand that C4E as it is currently exists does not allow for the addition of new districts. That is why I’m asking that you seek to amend it to include East Ramapo.

C4E targets many of the programs, such as smaller class sizes, all-day kindergarten, students performing below standards, English language learners, and students with disabilities, that are currently at issue in East Ramapo. Furthermore, C4E includes a mature, well-defined, and most importantly, effective method for monitoring performance and ensuring accountability from the district that the funds are being used appropriately and achieving their intended purpose.

Changing the school funding formula is controversial, and getting such a change passed may be difficult, since any change would have impacts and consequences far beyond the borders of East Ramapo. Likewise, any attempt to pass a “custom” solution for East Ramapo will face an uphill battle. On the other hand, C4E already exists, already has a source of funding, and already has a proven track record. It may be easier to obtain the votes needed to add East Ramapo to this program than it would be to obtain the votes needed for the other options.

David A. Curry


Special Edition: State Aid Analysis and Action

Power of Ten Update

Special Edition: State Aid Analysis and Action

As a result of the fiscal monitor’s report, which detailed the reckless mismanagement of the school board over the past eight years, NY State is currently considering helping East Ramapo with more funding. The school board has been lobbying hard for a change to the “formula” which is used by the state to decide how much money to give to school districts. Is this the right way to help East Ramapo? The wealthiest districts in New York get much less state aid, averaging less than $2000 per pupil, while the poorest get over $10,000. East Ramapo has been getting about $6,000 per pupil, less than the terribly poor districts upstate, but about double our closest neighbors in Rockland. That’s because the aid formula takes into account that we have more non-public school students, more English language learners, and more low income students. An analysis is available at http://poweroften.us/state-aid-q-and-a/

Money will be needed to resolve the problems caused by the school board’s actions. That money must come with controls to prevent a repeat of the last eight years. Fortunately, there is already an existing program that does exactly that. It is called the “Contracts for Excellence” grant program. The Contracts for Excellence (C4E) Program was established in 2007 to provide additional accountability for increased State Aid for low performing school districts. C4E is a comprehensive approach to targeting fiscal resources to specific allowable programs proven to raise the achievement of the students with the greatest educational need. Districts required to enter a contract must document the schools, programs, and student subgroups to be targeted for funding, along with specific, achievable performance improvements that will result.

Sign the petition at: http://poweroften.us/demand-excellence/ to urge NY State decision makers to require East Ramapo to enter into the C4E program as a way of providing more funds that are targeted to our needs.

#TheLast child denied an education

Power of Ten Update

In This Issue:

1. Malala Accepts Nobel Peace Prize
2. East Ramapo Underground Radio Today
3. FOR Winter Solstice Event Sunday
4. Teach-In in Spring Valley Next Saturday

1) Malala Accepts Nobel Peace Prize

2014 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Malala has started a new movement called #TheLast child denied an education.

I have joined, and I’m asking you to stand with me.

Here’s what Malala said that inspired me to act. I hope it inspires you as well:

“I had two options, one was to remain silent and wait to be killed, the second was to speak up … and wait to be killed.”

“I chose the second one. I decided to speak up … so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education”

“Let this end with us. And let us begin this ending … together … today … right here, right now.”

Join me at http://www.malala.org/?sp_ref=91058743.272.10962.e.42367.2&source=email

The video of her amazing speech is now featured on the homepage http://poweroften.us/


2) East Ramapo Underground Radio Today

The next East Ramapo Underground Radio Show is this Friday, December 12 at 10am on WRCR-1300AM. Many things have happened since the last show. Most importantly is the Fiscal Monitors’ Report about the school district. We will discuss what we like and don’t like about his report.

Who will be the Heroes and Zeroes of the month? Who gets coal in their stocking this year?
The number to the show is 845-362-0013

The board hired another law firm in a frivolous article 78 lawsuit against NYSED. Find out who the board is now paying $650 per hour as they claim they are broke and need more money from the state. Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/Yg4FghjtPEM

East Ramapo Underground

3) FOR Winter Solstice Event Sunday

FOR USA opens the doors of its national headquarters at Shadowcliff, 521 N. Broadway, Upper Nyack, for community warmth & fun. As always, please bring a savory or sweet dish to share; beverages will be provided.

During the celebration, the 2014 Nyack Local Peace Awards will be presented to the Nyack Center with Executive Director Kim Cross and local philanthropist Herb Kurz. This year’s musical guests include: Regret the Hour, Lisa Sokolov, Bill Vanaver, Naaz Hosseini & Peter Blum, Steve & Emilia White, Answer the Muse, and more.
Suggested donations: $15, $35-Families, $100-Earth Angel.

RSVP/INFO: 845.358.4601, S. Hope Altkin, ext. 32, or Jonette O’Kelley Miller, ext. 29.

Sunday December 14th 1:00pm-6:00pm
at the FOR- Shadowcliff 521 North Broadway, NYACK NY


4) Teach-In in Spring Valley Next Saturday

Are We Listening:
America’s Message to the Black Man

Rev. Dr. Weldon McWilliams IV will be imparting his perspective and proposed solutions to a myriad of problems affecting our people in special teach in lectures starting with a focus on recent tragedies by law enforcement and the criminalization of Black Men throughout American history.

What is AMERICA telling Black Men & the Black Community, how are we responding and is it the proper response?
Saturday, December 20, 2014 5:00 PM

First Baptist Church of Spring Valley
6 Reverend McWilliams Way (Hoyt Street)
Spring Valley, NY 10977
*In the Lower Auditorium*

Please consider a donation to encourage further community interaction and dialogue

Sponsored by: WeldonWorks LLC

Contact: info@drweldonworks.com

Time to stand up and be counted

The Power of Ten Update

In This Issue: 

1. Next Protest is this Tuesday, December 2
2. Diversity Training Mandated for School Board Members
3. East Ramapo Education Activists Featured in Story on Diversity in Schools

1) Next Protest is this Tuesday, December 2

Please join us in a rally right before the next regularly scheduled school board meeting.

It is Time for us to stand up and be counted. We refuse to be ignored any more!

Tuesday, December 2 at 7:00 PM
105 S. Madison Ave, Spring Valley

We Demand RESPECT!
WE Demand EQUAL EDUCATION for All Children!

Exigimos El RESPETO!
Exigimos IGUALDAD EN LA EDUCACIÓN para Todos los Niños!

Nou Mande RESPÈ!
Nou Mande EGAL EDUCATION pou Tout Timoun!

2. Diversity Training Mandated for School Board Members

NY State has ordered that the school board and administrator go for diversity training.

The Journal News: State will require diversity, open meetings law training for school board by winter

3. East Ramapo Education Activists Featured in National Story on Diversity in Schools

The Journal News: Diversity presents opportunities and challenges for schools