E. Ramapo parents fume over possible school closing

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Some East Ramapo parents were upset to learn Thursday that the school superintendent is considering closing two local elementary schools in an effort to cut spending.

Parent Mariano Ruis says his daughter, who attends Hempstead Elementary School now slated for closing, cried when she heard the news.

Superintendent Ira Oustatcher, however, says his hands are tied as he tries to meet the needs of a difficult budget year. According to Oustatcher, Lime Kiln Elementary was the first school on the possible chopping block in 2008, but after Gov. David Paterson announced Wednesday that East Ramapo will lose $3.6 million, Hempstead Elementary was added to the list.

Aside from the gaping state budget deficit, a declining enrollment at Hempstead Elementary is also to blame for its current predicament. A decade ago, 9,000 students were attending the school. By 2017, the enrollment is expected to drop to 7,300 students.

The school board expects to make its final decision regarding the closing in February. District officials say if both schools will be shut down, they may consider selling one of the buildings and leasing the other.

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