East Ramapo Schools Respond to State Regarding Failure to Pay BOCES

East Ramapo Superintendent Joel Klein took issue with the New York State Education Department's criticism of the district's response regarding its delinquent payments to Rockland BOCES in a letter sent Wednesday.

Early last week, Rockland BOCES Superintendent Mary Jean Marsico spoke out about the issues caused by East Ramapo's failure pay $5 million it owes for its students' tuition. 

East Ramapo did not meet a Jan. 2 deadline set by the NYS Education Department (NYSED) Commissioner's office to provide a plan of payment. An extension was granted, with Jan. 16 as the new deadline. 

East Ramapo Superintendent Dr. Joel Klein responded Wednesday with a letter to NYSED Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz that includes a payment plan and details of measures the district will be taking to pay its debt, but no specifics on how much BOCES will be paid. That plan includes making a payment this Friday for services through Oct. 2012. 

According to BOCES Director of Communications Stephanie Gouss said they are waiting for a response to East Ramapo from the NYSED Comissioner's office. 

"There was a detailed response to the letter that was sent" Gouss said. "There is a payment plan."

The proposed schedule shows monthly payments for services provided by BOCES three months prior. East Ramapo proposes to make the payments from January through September 2013 to cover BOCES services from October 2012 through June 2013.  

Klein also sent a plan for cuts that would balance the East Ramapo budget for 2012-13 and 2013-14, but wrote that he is not recommending them to his board of education.

"Instead, I am recommending a Budget Note to close the deficit," Klein wrote. "While the enumerated cuts could be made this year to create a balanced budget (without incurring the additional debt), those cuts would devastate our educational program and disserve our student population. I therefore cannot recommend the draconian cuts to our board, and will not do so."

Klein went on to ask for written instructions from the NYSED if it plans to direct the district to make those cuts.

Klein blamed the district's problems on its "near-unique distribution of public and non-public school students." Less than one third of the 29,000 school-age students in East Ramapo attend public schools. He claims that the state does not provide the proper funding for the district to meet mandated costs such as special education for the students who do not attend public schools.

"We have concluded that there is literally almost nothing we can do to get the financial operations of our district in sync without an overhaul of the state funding formula for our district," Klein wrote.

Klein also spoke out against public criticism of his district in relation to its budget issues. 

"For reasons we cannot understand, your office has chosen to play out its confrontational dealings with our district in the public eye," Klein wrote. "While we have studiously sought to avoid public responses and comments on your office's activities, we feel it is necessary to share this response more publicly, so that at least our side of the story is available for those who are interested, even if they choose to ignore it."

Klein sent copies of the letter to the district board of education, NYSED Commissioner John B. King, Assistant Commissioner Charles Szuberla, State Senator David Carlucci, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and Marsico. A copy of the letter is attached to this report. 

It was Szuberla who sent a letter asking for more information from the district on Dec. 14, 2012. According to Klein, he wrote Szuberla Dec. 20 telling him that it was not possible to provide all of the information in the time allowed, partially because many district employees would be away for the holidays.

Editor's note: Klein's letter and the addendum detailing East Ramapo plans to address its budget deficit and pay its BOCES bill are attached to this report. 

I wouldnt be suprised one..day that they crawl over to other school districts..and beg for them to take those 1/3 minorities in thier school districts and offer to pay a part of that to them..perhaps they may throw in a old school or two..maybe the old high school on rt59..what a deal!!!!! then they can take over ALL the schools for their 21,000 students!!!!they will tell NYS how smart a idea it is!!!add a few more torahs...and away they go... what you dont hear is what is happening to the homeowners who own houses not near the center of all the activities of this community.who would want to buy any large nice home in this school district when you read what is transpiring..the numbers say it all..I know a house that was listed close to 790,000 getting offfers for not even 500,000 ..who knows if there are others..unless it is with in walking distance of a temple..it has less value to many.. when you have a cult mentality it hurts many of those who are not "As"into" the religion as those who run the area..but I can see every school becoming a private one the way they are going.ramapo isnt place it used to be so so sad..
Laurence Voss January 17, 2013 at 09:54 PM
The ERCSD is a sewer run by by a Board of Education that steals the money intended for the public school students that they have abandoned and spends these funds to support their own children who attend private religious institutions. Unfortunately, our local politicians ignore this blatant larceny because they are afraid of the political power bloc assembled in a religious community that pays no attention whatsoever to local laws and ordinances and that flaunts these very public larcenies with impunity because any attempt to correct these malfeasances is met with accusations of anti-Semitism by the very thieves that are exploiting this financial fraud. None of this has anything to do with religious belief and everything to do with greed and taxation without representing the very children that are entrusted to their non-existant care. Enough !!!
Pat Hoffman January 17, 2013 at 11:02 PM
I agree withthese comments. As I have said in the past the State owes it to the parents and children in the public schools in East Ramapo---not private religious ones---to fully investigate where the tax money went and why the public schools are now suffering so much---loss of needed subjects, teachers, supplies, sports etc. etc. The school board and Superintendant need to be kicked out and replaced by parents of children going to the public schools. Im sure the politicians are worried about losing that huge BLOC of voters that are told who to back for reelection etc.-----BUT it is time to think of the children and their education in the East Ramapo School system-----a complete education with all the subjects and music programs and spots that have been taken away. Make the prive religious schools fund themselves by all of those parents --many Im sure not paying taxes. Catholic schools have to fund themselves all the while also paying taxes for the public schools. make the others do the same.. East Ramapo used o be a great school system. It is sad that it now is being destroyed by a group that doesnt send their children there.
MD January 18, 2013 at 03:51 PM
This is laughable, Mr. Klien is like, "Let's just forget about all the stuff I did, all of the kids I sent to private school with no supporting documentation on the ERCSD's dime, all the schools I sold off at a fraction of their worth...etc...and istead let by gones be by gones. Let's face it, we aren't going to change so the State might as well figure out some other way to deal with the problem. Oh and by the way let me just insinuate that you are treating us this way because of my religion, I'm only saying that so that you know we are prepared to go that route if you don't dismiss all prior accusations. Thank you, Mr. Klien"
Reality January 20, 2013 at 08:00 PM
As the East Ramapo District continues with it’s efforts to cope with the financial stess on it’s operations, I would like to suggest that providing some basic financial information relative to the state aid provided by New York state as well as federal aid may serve to buttress their position and assist them in obtaining some relief and additional support. While ERCSD advocates for additional state aid by indicating that the current aid formula does not take into account the economic condition of the district as well as the increasing large number of students attending private schools in the district. I have not seen any financial information to support their position. Some basic financial information that I would like to see includes the following. State aid received for the 11-12 school year Concept. Total. Recd for. Recd for. Paid to or cost Public. Private. For service to Schools. Schools. Private schools Foundation Aid net of GEA. 32,350,153 Transportation Aid. 15,241,322 Textbook Software Library Aid. 1,953,800 Basis 79.48 per student Other aid. 747,742 Total. 50,293,017 Federal Aid Title 1. 13,854,549 Title 1 - SIG. 137,112 Title llA. 1,090,352 TitlelllA-LEP 1,950,961 IDEA-611. 4,674,593


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