HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The CBS2 documentary 37% followed the Hempstead schools for a year and that reporting helped prompt the need for oversight.
Bills passed unanimously in June are now expected to be signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. If that happens, school monitors will be coming to Long Island, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported Tuesday.
Six months after the emotional vote in Albany to bring first-of-its kind monitoring to the Hempstead and Wyandanch schools, the bills will finally be signed into law, state lawmaker sponsors said. However, there will be amendments, including no veto power over-spending, something the districts lobbied for.
“We felt it was very punitive in nature and it would strip the voice of the community,” Hempstead Board of Education president Dr. David Gates said.
Reactions have been mixed.
“The money that’s being spent is not being spent the right way,” one person said.
“Schools in here is doing better,” one woman said.
“A monitor wouldn’t hurt,” a man added.
Both Hempstead and Wyandanch have been dealing with budget chaos. The districts blame it on an influx of undocumented students, rising charter schools, and transportation costs. The districts are the poorest on Long Island in terms of taxable property values and family incomes.
“They will get financial assistance right away. More importantly, they’ll develop long-term financial plans,” said state Sen. John Brooks, the co-sponsor of the Wyandanch bill.
The state Department of Education would then appoint the monitors and set their salaries, which would be paid through school district budgets.
Proponents said help will be transparent, with required public hearings.
“Now we have secured a brighter future for these students,” Hempstead bill co-sponsor Sen. Kevin Thomas said.
The monitors will have some teeth, including oversight and guidance of educational and fiscal policies from each school district’s board of education, and superintendent.
Others complain the governor caved in.
“I think this decision is being made for political reasons, and in the end the children of Wyandanch and Hempstead are being neglected,” said professor Alan Singer of the Hofstra University School of Education.
The amended bills may be enacted by month’s end.