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Albany, N.Y., June 17, 2016 – In response to the passage of A.10723/S.8131, a bill in the New York State legislature that will bring much-needed funding and oversight to the East Ramapo School District, Barbara Zaron and Richard C. Laskey, co-chairs of Reform Jewish Voice of New York State, issued the following statement:
This week, a hard-fought victory was won for East Ramapo’s public school students and their families. We applaud the New York State Legislature’s swift action in passing A.10723/S.8131 before the end of the legislative session. The bill provides funding to restore vital programs and empowers the state’s Commissioner of Education to oversee the school board’s fiscal decisions for one year. With nearly unanimous votes in both the State Senate and Assembly, the bill now proceeds to Governor Cuomo’s desk. We urge the Governor to sign the bill as soon as possible.
For far too long, East Ramapo’s public school students have been left without essential educational opportunities due to financial mismanagement. We are grateful to Assembly Members Jaffee and Zebrowski and Senator Carlucci, who have advocated tirelessly for these students and carried this bill through the busy final days of the legislative session. We also extend our thanks to the East Ramapo Central School District’s school board, who agreed to this compromise legislation, allowing it to proceed smoothly. Finally, we stand in awe of the public school students and families in East Ramapo who have steadfastly called for oversight, even when prospects for legislative action looked dim.
Our Reform Jewish tradition calls upon us to support public education and the opportunities it provides to all, regardless of race, class or creed. As Maimonides wrote, “any city that does not have a school in it shall be cut off [all contact] until they find a teacher for the children” (Hilchot Talmud Torah 2:1). We fully recognize the fact that this bill is only one step towards realizing this vision and addressing all challenges faced by the school district. We remain wholly committed to working with our partners in the East Ramapo community to put in place a long-term solution that brings stability to the district’s finances, accountability to the school board and a broad range of educational opportunities to the district’s students.
Reform Jewish Voice of New York State (RJV) is the Reform Jewish Movement’s advocate for social justice in New York State. RJV functions under the auspices of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, a joint instrumentality of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union for Reform Judaism, whose over 100 congregationsthroughout New York State encompasses nearly 100,000 Reform Jews. Visit www.rjvnys.org for more.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose nearly 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.