East Ramapo School District postpones bond sale to erase debt

The East Ramapo School Board meets in Spring

The East Ramapo School Board meets in Spring Valley. (Oct. 23, 2012) Photo Credit: Faye Murman

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The sale of a bond meant to help the East Ramapo School District raise $7.5 million to bridge a budget deficit has been postponed until further notice.

Fiscal Advisors & Marketing Inc., a financial services company based in Syracuse, had listed the sale of a one-year, $7.5 million bond by the district for Tuesday. However, on Friday the bond sale was removed from the website.

Jeanine Rodgers Caruso, president of Fiscal Advisors, said the sale was postponed, not canceled. She was unable to provide additional details.

East Ramapo School District Superintendent Joel Klein said the bond will be reposted soon and listed for a longer period in order to attract more bidders at possibly a lower interest rate for the district.

Despite concerns raised by parents and board members about the district's ability to repay debt, on Jan. 22 the board approved of the bond sale to balance the budget, as required by state law.

Last month, after a state review of some East Ramapo budget information, state Education Department Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz questioned the district's ability to repay the loan.

The school district had announced in September that it had an estimated $6 million midyear budget deficit, a gap that has continued to grow. As a result, Klein proposed a series of budget cuts, including eliminating kindergarten and elementary arts and music programs.

Parents have packed board meetings, angry about the proposed cuts. Some also are suing Orthodox Jewish members of the East Ramapo School Board, claiming they improperly siphoned off money to private school services, leaving minority students in the public schools without a proper education.

The board members have denied those claims, insisting the real problem is that the state isn't sufficiently funding the district.

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