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Congers Elementary Bond Vote Set, Potential Redistricting Plan Underway

Clarkstown School Board President Mike Aglialoro speaks about a potential redistricting plan.
Clarkstown School Board President Mike Aglialoro speaks about a potential redistricting plan.

While the Clarkstown School Board approved a February 4th, 2014 public vote on a $6.5 million bond to repair the Congers Elementary School, residents learned the administration is preparing a plan to reassign that school’s students if the bond fails. 

The school board voted five to two in favor of setting Tuesday, Feb. 4th as the date for voters in the Clarkstown School District to cast their ballots on a bond to repair the school, which was closed in August after being declared unsafe. Parents and some board members had sought a larger and broader bond that would include funds for new roofs needed at the district’s other schools. But that effort failed to get enough board support to pass.  Parents have expressed concerns that a bond designated solely for repairs of Congers Elementary would not get the backing of voters outside their tightknit community.

After several references to redistricting and questions from the audience during Thursday’s meeting, Board President Mike Aglialoro said the administration was working on a plan for a possible reassignment of Congers students if the bond failed. He said the potential redistricting plan would be shared at one of the January board meetings.

“The superintendent and his staff are working on a potential redistricting for Congers students,” he said. “We’ll back at either the January 9th or the 23rd meeting to communicate that with the community so they’ll have that before the bond vote.” 

Congers parents reacted to what they heard.

Allison Leuser said the board should have been more straightforward from the beginning about developing a redistricting plan.

“He just cemented it right there,” she said.

Leuser said the board previously told the community it was a district wide plan when it was really focused on Congers.

“I wanted clarification and he did clarify they will treat Congers separately,” said Eileen Broderick.

She expressed concerns that the timing of the release of the Congers redistricting plan would impact the way people voted on the $6.5 million bond.

Leuser said parents in other parts of Clarkstown should realize any redistricting of Congers students could affect their neighborhood schools.

In September, Congers students were reassigned to the New City, Laurel Plains and Lakewood elementary schools. Parents complained their children were not getting the appropriate services, there were busing issues and their children were upset. Over the Columbus Day weekend, the kindergarten through fifth grade classes were transferred to the former St. Augustine’s School in New City which the district rented out for the remainder of the school year.

The board also approved a $19,000 redistricting study by a four to three vote, which will take several months to complete. Assistant Superintendent John LaNave said the district has never had a demographic study done and it will provide another data point and provide socio economic information in addition to the census data and school enrollments possessed by the district. 

Aglialoro said the data would be broader than the live birth data used for the budget presentation.

“So, this data is much broader than that,” he said. “It is much more objective. It looks at real estate, potential housing developments.”

Rockland BOCES staff will prepare the report, which will be posted on the district website when finished.

 

 

Sasha Bunchuk December 13, 2013 at 12:46 PM
The Hillcrest School - in Clarkstown, New City. is currently CLOSED although it is illegally occupied by a girl's yeshiva. East Ramapo School District is under a court order to resubmit the school to open bidding. I'm at a loss as to why pursuing this school, fully retrofitted, is not being considered. If ERSD says it is not available it is only because they want to "give" it to their friends. As it stands now the yeshiva is there practically rent-free. Wouldn't a new redistricting that would include the CLARKSTOWN residents who now have to attend ERSD, be a marvelous thing...?
Mike Hirsch December 13, 2013 at 02:02 PM
Let us not forget that the members of the School Board are volunteers who do a lot of work for the sole purpose of benefitting our community. Whether you agree or disagree with some of their decisions, they are all doing what they think best. I think they made the right decision here. It is proper that the community as a whole should vote on each particular issue one at a time.
Sasha Bunchuk December 13, 2013 at 02:07 PM
Talk to the New City Bldg. Dept. and Highway Dept. to see how New Sq. moved CONCRETE barriers to get to Addison Boyce Rd. Land mines might not even work.
Mike Hirsch December 13, 2013 at 02:12 PM
Hopefully our new county exec Ed Day can move the Hillcrest School sale along. At some point in time it will probably be up for sale again. I think the Town of Clarkstown should buy it, knock it down, and build affordable housing there. That way those that are finding it difficult to continue to live here because of the high taxes will be able to stay and the town will actually be able to make some money which they can use to start paying down our deficit.
Watchdog December 13, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Mike, do you really REALLY, think that Gromack and Eddie Lettre can run anything at a PROFIT? Last thing we want to do is let Town Government get into the housing business.
Robert Ward Kurkela December 13, 2013 at 03:41 PM
East Ramapo School Board President Yehuda Weissmandl has had eyes on Hillcrest from the beginning. It was his company that knocked down the fence so the yeshiva students can simply walk from New Square to Hillcrest. It is his company that is presently building in New Square on the Hillcrest border, directly behind the school. He will do anything to keep Hillcrest under his control.
Sasha Bunchuk December 13, 2013 at 03:53 PM
How much more corruption has to manifest itself before someone is sent to jail? The School Bd. Pres. is a public servant. His attempts to enrich himself and his select constituency is just another example of the Ultra religious to trample over the secular constituency they are "sworn" to serve. The NYS Educ. Dept. declared the original "sale" to be invalid!!! Surprise... A beautiful school closed, improved with taxpayer money and then given to New Square. All this thievery while the kids suffer and the non-religious population increases. The lack of outrage is mind boggling.
Robert Ward Kurkela December 13, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Sasha, you are spot on. When I was at Hillcrest this summer documenting the damage to the building by the yeshiva they chased me off the property and called the CPD. I was told I was on "private" property. They have since installed "No Trespassing" signs at Hillcrest. Ironically, I was at Kakiat helping for a food drive recently and I noticed ultra-religious men walking through the school grounds as a shortcut to their neighborhood. I didn't bother calling the police because it would do no good in Ramapo. It's as if these people are giving all of us the middle finger while stealing as much as they can for their own. The public kids in East Ramapo, mostly black and Hispanic, are being screwed over non-stop and nothing is being done about it in Albany. I guess since they don't have voting power it's not a concern. It will be a concern when a Crown Heights type event erupts in Spring Valley...and don't think it's not possible.
Mike Hirsch December 13, 2013 at 04:59 PM
You're right about that Dog. Hopefully by the time the Hillcrest school is back up for resale, Alex and his buddy Fast Eddie Lettre will be long gone.
Mike Hirsch December 13, 2013 at 05:02 PM
RWK - Not to worry - Yehuda Weissmandl is about to get a strong dose of Ed Day down his throat.
Sasha Bunchuk December 13, 2013 at 09:07 PM
I'm not sure people realize the insidiousness of the Ultra religious community. Upstate in Monroe the Kiryas Joel enclave backed Mr. Doles III (husband of Vasquez-Doles, rocklland's gift to the judiciary) The Satmars gave 99% of their votes to Doles. The secular people gave over 95% of their votes to an upstart party protesting the actions of Doles et al. Doles won. He will have the distinction of presiding over a town population that hates him. What did he do to deserve the devotion of the Satmars? Amongst other things, as Deputy Supervisor of Monroe before the election he gave the people of KJ several thousand Monroe dollars so that KJ could pursue the annexation of a piece of property in adjacent Woodbury. In Woodbury the property would allow only several homes each on 2 acres. If it was in KJ it could be zoned for hundreds of homes. His reasoning...it's more eatables for Monroe. Nonsense...If you look at the ownership of homes in Hasidic communities you will see "Corporations" are the owners of hindreds if not thousands of private home. Why? If the owners are corporations then the residents do not claim assets and are then eligible for all kinds of gov't assistance. KJ is one of the poorest communities in the US. Per capita income is $22,000. and govc't assistance like food stamps, welfare, etc. is 8 times other communities.
Sasha Bunchuk December 13, 2013 at 09:10 PM
To be continued...see www.failedmessiah.com for some enlightening articles.
Z December 13, 2013 at 10:42 PM
http://pleiter.blogspot.com/2013/12/7-reasons-to-justify-closing-elementary.html
Disgusted ClarkstownRES December 14, 2013 at 09:20 AM
Why on earth would this bond EVER pass? The Administration should be presenting a plan to the Board and community about what the future holds for the children of Congers. The bottom line is several school districts are closing their buildings due to low enrollment so why should Clarkstown be any different? The last time this district closed buildings was 30 years ago due to decreased enrollment and the cycle has now repeated itself. I think it was a good idea to hire a demographer to evaluate the rest of the district as well. At least then the Administration will have some idea of how to plan for the future.
Z December 14, 2013 at 02:09 PM
It won't be just the future of the children of Congers, it will also be the future of all the children in Clarkstown!
Disgusted ClarkstownRES December 14, 2013 at 05:56 PM
Z…yes all the children in Clarkstown but in the article it stated a plan to have a "potential redistricting for Congers students". Again, if it is just the Congers students who are going to be redistricted in the near future why would anyone else in the District vote for this if their children would not be affected? Again, I still don't understand how closing 1 school that houses approximately 200 children will affect an entire District of over 8,000.
Z December 14, 2013 at 07:02 PM
And why should only the Congers students be the ones that are going to go through redistricting? Don't you think that the BOE is saying only Congers students will be redistricted because they want the bond to be voted down. Nonsense! Of course, they won't say that there could be redistricting in the other schools too. Please read this article: http://pleiter.blogspot.com/2013/12/7-reasons-to-justify-closing-elementary.html
Disgusted ClarkstownRES December 14, 2013 at 09:50 PM
I didn't say only the Congers students should be the only ones…the article did. I'm sure with the hiring of a demographer more redistricting in the future will be done but right now it is the Congers children who's school is currently closed and they have no plan in place yet for September as to where these children are going to be. I personally don't think renting a school for $300k a year is the answer either…just my opinion
SamS December 15, 2013 at 09:11 AM
That is the goal of the demographer...find out the numbers and redistricted the whole district. There are other buildings in the district that are underutilized so there is a need to rezone. But the timing of it is after the bond, so that congers could be closed. When asked time and time again what is their plan, the board has not answered. It's coming is all that has been said since October. And st Augustine's is not costing us $300k. The state has picked up 55% of the costs since it was deemed an emergency. Another fact the board does not speak of so that people are more likely to vote against the bond. St Augustine rent costs the district the equivelant to one of the newly hired administrators on the core curriculum team. I believe they hired 4.
Disgusted ClarkstownRES December 15, 2013 at 09:33 AM
I believe a demographer is a good idea though. At least then data can be evaluated and redistricting can be done properly not just if and when a building falls into disrepair. Thank you for clarification on the rent but even if the state paid 55% this year who is to say they will pay for it next year. It seems as though there is space in our other buildings to house these children and it would work if the Board would just integrate the children into existing classrooms. I guess now it is about waiting to see if the bond passes or fails and what the Administrations plan is in both scenarios. I believe it is a lose lose anyway you look at it. Our prior Administration and Boards never set money aside to make sure these buildings were kept up to par and with years of neglect I guess this is what it has come too. So sad
Mike Hirsch December 15, 2013 at 11:11 PM
The school board is moving towards redistricting because of the financial imperative and because of excess capacity in our elementary schools, the result of declining enrollment. I believe that they will eventually close two elementary schools, Congers being one of them because it makes the most sense because of the two reasons stated above. If it were up to me, I'd just shut down Congers Elementary without the bond vote. This board wants community input as evidenced by the community workshops and the upcoming vote. If anyone is unhappy with the way this process is unfolding, they have the right to run against this board, and, if elected, donate a lot of their own time and energy to helping improve our school system.

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