Fear that a large number of Satmar hasidim will move into Bloomingburg and use their bloc vote to take over the Pine Bush school board has prompted a proposal to divide the school district into geographic zones with each zone electing its own member of the Board of Education.
Fear Of New Satmar Village Prompts Non-Hasidic Locals To Try To Save Their School Board
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Fear that a large number of Satmar hasidim will move into Bloomingburg and use their bloc vote to take over the Pine Bush school board has prompted a proposal to divide the school district into geographic zones with each zone electing its own member of the Board of Education, the Times Herald-Record reported.
Three of the four candidates running for the two open seats on the school board support the move and the fourth says the idea should be considered – but only if it isn’t done specifically to counter the looming hasidic bloc vote.
And as fear spreads that hasidim or some other group could move en masse to the bucolic area located about 1 1/2 hours north northwest of New York City, bloc vote and completely change the semi-rural area’s way and quality of life, all four Pine Bush school board candidates believe the proposed change in how school board members are elected is no longer simply about Bloomingburg itself.
Tuesday night, the Pine Bush Board of Education agreed to ask the four area legislators to pass legislation to allow creating those geographic zones — despite the fact that the board’s vice president, Judith Pulver, insisted bigotry and prejudice were behind the move.
“The only reason this has been proposed is to stop a certain group of people from gaining control.…[It’s] a continuation of prejudice and bigotry," Pulver said at the meeting.
But supporters of the change disagree, pointing out that a sudden influx of any group into high density housing that never before existed in the area would allow that group to potentially control the district’s public schools almost overnight.
And if that group sends their children exclusively to private schools – like is the case in the scandal-plagued East Ramapo district that serves the Monsey, New York area – its concern for the wellbeing of the public schools and the welfare of public school students might be less than optimal, like in East Ramapo. And that could lead to a gutting of the public schools – just like what is taking place in East Ramapo.
They also point out the vast geographic area of the Pine Bush school district which serves students from seven towns of various sizes and leaves many feeling marginalized. Geographically zoned representation on the school board would help to reduce that marginalization, supporters say.