East Ramapo Voters Head to the Polls on School Board, Budget

NEW YORK -

Voters in the East Ramapo school district will get to vote Tuesday on three board members and whether to approve a school budget that raises taxes marginally but adds 14 days of free busing for nonpublic schools.

New York state’s education chief allowed the East Ramapo School Board to restore the two weeks of busing on days when there is no public school and granted them permission to override the state’s mandated cap limiting tax increases by 1 percent.

The $232.6 million school budget for the district that is home to the Torah communities of Monsey, Spring Valley and New Square would add approximately $190 a year to the average property tax bill. If the district stayed within the 1.46 percent tax cap, however, the increase would be $120.

A representative of the yeshivos said that the $70 difference is far less than the amount of money parents would have to pay to carpool on those days.

In addition, due to breaking the tax cap, district residents who have STAR exemptions would not be eligible for rebate checks this year.

Exceeding the tax cap, instituted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo six years ago, requires a 60 percent majority to pass.

Also on the ballot are three lawmakers on the nine-member school board. Harry Grossman, the current vice president of the board, is up for his first reelection battle. He faces Eric Goodwin.

Board member Moshe Hopstein is not seeking a fourth term, leading to an election fight to succeed him between Mark Berkowitz and Alexandra Manigo. Running for the seat left vacant following the resignation of Joe Chajmovicz are Joel Freilech and Chevon Dos Reis.

A group of about 50 Orthodox activists issued a letter endorsing Grossman, Berkowitz and Freilech.

The yeshivah representative noted to Hamodia that the neighboring Ramapo Central school district does not get busing on the days public school is out.

A Ramapo Central mother of a 12-year-old boy said in a robocall going out to voters in East Ramapo this week that if the budget is voted down, or the three board members don’t win, then the results will be “devastating.”

“If we don’t win this election,” the woman says, “the opposition will have a majority on the board and you will be joining me on daily carpooling.”

Polls are open from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.