VALHALLA, N.Y. – The Valhalla School District avoided a drawn out appeals process and agreed to refund $1.1 million to the town of Greenburgh in a settlement for illegal payments made by the town to the school district.
Edgemont lawyer Robert Bernstein, who negotiated the settlement along with attorney Herb Rosenberg, said that the settlement payment will not hurt the education of children in the Valhalla School District.
“If the district were to lose the appeal, the penalties would have been far worse,” Bernstein said. “This settlement allows the district to carry on with their goals.”
Laverne Clark, president of the Valhalla Board of Education, referred a request for comment to district Superintendent Brenda Myers. Messages left with Myers were not returned Tuesday.
In November 2011, New York State Supreme Court ruled that the school district would be required to pay Greenburgh $1.8 million to refund the town for payments made to the district that were deemed illegal. In a complicated agreement in 2004, the Town of Greenburgh agreed to pay the Valhalla School District $650,000 annually for 10 years for allowing a homeless shelter within its borders.
In February, the Valhalla Board of Education voted to appeal the ruling, but ultimately settled on the reduced payment. The settlement was unanimously approved Friday at a special board of education meeting and ratified Tuesday morning by the Greenburgh Town Board.
The $1.1 million will be paid to Greenburgh over the course of a nine-year period, Bernstein said. The majority of the settlement will be paid by September 2013, with $400,000 to be paid by this September and another $150,000 paid by next year.
Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner said that the school district should be able to afford the settlement.
"I think it's a fair agreement," Feiner said Tuesday. "I feel the goal is not to kill the school district."