(Spring Valley, NY) – Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) joined East Ramapo Central School District Superintendent Dr. Deborah Wortham, nursing and facilities staff, and Rockland County Legislator Tony Earl at Spring Valley High School today to discuss potential funding impacts due to school closures.
The East Ramapo Central School district had three students test positive for the coronavirus at three different schools in the district, including: Pomona Middle School, Ramapo High School, and Hempstead Elementary School. The 14 schools in the district have been closed since Saturday, and 2,500 people have self quarantined.
Ahead of the State's emergency declaration, Carlucci introduced emergency legislation (S.7996A) last week to proactively ensure New York's schools do not lose funding if they cannot meet 180 days of instruction due to a confirmed case or a closing out of an abundance of caution.
If schools do not reopen soon in the East Ramapo School District, they could begin losing $210,000 a day in education funding.
Senator David Carlucci said, "Our school districts have been put in a very difficult situation where they are forced to decide between the health and welfare of the students, teachers and staff and the financial well-being of the district. Its an unfair situation, and we need clarity from the State Education Department and Albany. We have legislation pending right now that would give crystal clear guidance that if a district needs to close, they could do that without jeopardizing their State aid."
East Ramapo Central School District Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Wortham, said, "Losing the funding would have a major impact, which is why we have been doing everything we can to ensure that does not happen. When I heard Senator Carlucci's voice on the phone, it sort of brought tears, because it takes an entire village to raise a child, and this is what it looks like. We thank him for championing this legislation to ensure we are whole."
Schools usually prepare for a number of potential snow days; however, the East Ramapo Central School District has already met the limit and was using Spring Break days from April.
However, on Friday, the Governor said that the State will waive the 180 day requirement for school districts under his executive order, only if all snow and vacations days have already been used.
"We have four days for Spring Break, and we took 3 days, and legally we can do that. Why should we though have to take Spring Break days from our teachers," asked Superintendent Dr. Wortham.
Carlucci's legislation would protect teachers and faculty from losing their vacation time, and not require a school to exhaust their time off to meet the 180 day requirement.
Carlucci's legislation is carried by Felix Ortiz in the Assembly and has garnered the support of Education Committee Chair, Shelley Mayer.
The bill is currently in the Education Committee. If passed and signed into law, it would take effect immediately.