NY State: Transforming Colleges, Ramapo Seeks Aid

Cesar Perales, Secretary of State of New York, detailed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for New York. Check back with Patch for more on his presentation


Cesar Perales, Secretary of State of New York, detailed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan for New York. He presented a powerpoint and fielded questions at Ramapo Town Hall Monday night. He looked at several aspects from economic development to education standards.

The big push was “NY one-two punch: Jobs and Education.” With education, the state’s new plan is to look at “More and better," including more and longer school days and full pre-K. Read more about Cuomo's education goals in this Patch post. 

Job Linkage Program

Cuomo is looking to match and train the workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow with the NEXT GENERATION NY JOB LINKAGE program. This means reimagining SUNY and CUNY community college systems.

“There are 210,000 jobs in our state where employers say, ‘We can’t find qualified people to do these jobs.’ We need to address that issue of economic development,” said Perales. Two successful models that were brought up with the focus of preparing a ready workforce were:

  • Monroe Community College is a national leader in workforce training by working w/ regional businesses to design curriculum & offer training. MCC offers training in machining & optics fabrication to unemployed and underemployed workers.
  • Finger Lakes Community College offers a state of the art Viticulture and Wine Technology program that capitalizes on the region’s wine to provide training necessary to pursue a career in viticulture, vineyard management, winery operations, tasting room management, and wine sales.

“Why shouldn’t RCC work with local employers to develop (curriculum) and skill sets needed to fulfill these jobs?” said Perales.

The program will work with employers to identify the job, to define the skill and to provide the training for it.

State funding of colleges will be based on student job placement—like successful models in Florida.

One goal was NY SUNY 2020, in which Cuomo plans to “do a third round of grants to continue to leverage the economic power of our university system as a private sector job generator.”

Also, he’s looking to expand the program to CUNY campuses.

Public Comment

Following the presentation, several members of the public asked about aspects of Cuomo’s goals. In the first Patch post about the presentation, Perales said that the state is pushing for full pre-K.

“One of the presentation points was funding the Pre-K. That is one of the biggest issues right now,” said Ramapo Councilman Pat Withers. “(The East Ramapo School District is) trying to save all the money they can right now and they’re cutting program to see where they can save a dollar. One of the programs they’re looking to cut is Kindergarten and Pre-K, even after-school (programs). The supervisor has been a leading advocate. He’s funded after-school programs and even summer programs for the school district. It really isn’t our part to do that, but the supervisor stepped up and paid for (those) programs to help along the school district.”

“(Cuomo) is absolutely committed to (full pre-K),” said Perales. “We’re wrestling with the budget that we’re going to go public with in a few days.”

He said that his office would get back to Withers and the town on that issue, but suggested the town look into possibly having a community school.

France Hunter, a retired principal of East Ramapo School District and former Ramapo councilwoman, brought up state aid.

“When you talk about full day pre-K. We know how important it is in getting education. You have to get a good beginning. We know how poor the district is in the county. Is the state going to do something about changing the aid to school finance. In other words, poor districts need more. One size doesn’t fit all,” said Hunter. “There are schools over in Westchester that certainly don’t need the same amount of money. But if you’re going to use the same formula for all schools, East Ramapo will never catch up. I wonder if the Governor is truly aware that some districts are truly poorer than others and need the extra help.”

“There is a war in the legislature every year over the formula,” said Perales. “It is a legislative issue. It’s a very complex issue because of the arguments being made on both sides. Those programs (full pre-k and longer school calendars), the governor wants to finance. It’s not an additional burden to the district.”

One of Cuomo’s plans is to increase tourism through destination resorts and tourism.

“It’s a very progressive agenda. I do want to say that here in the town of Ramapo, we have two school districts and one of them is in crisis. It’s a district that needs help,” said Ramapo Supervisor Chrisopher St. Lawrence. “It’s a poor district, mostly minority students. The demographics in first and second grade are 70 percent Latino. 28,000 children in that school district, but only 7,000 go to public school. Will any of those casino funds be dedicated education?”

“We currently use (80 or 90 percent of) the money that we tax gambling enterprises … goes to education. That will continue to be (how we use that taxed money),” said Perales.

Check back with Patch for more information about this push for casinos and destination resorts.


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