2001-05-05 / Front Page

Superintendent Draws Ire Of

Superintendent Draws Ire Of

Parents at Educational Forum

Angered by the lack of seats in the Pre-K program at PS 114 and the perceived lack of Kindergarten seats for students who attend West End Temple for Pre-K, more than 150 parents and other residents took to the microphone at an Educational Forum at Beach Channel High School on Monday night to tell local superintendent Matt Bromme and Queens Representative to the central board, Terri Thomson, just how they feel about the problem.

"I bought my home in Belle Harbor because I thought that my child would be welcomed at PS 114," one parent fairly yelled at the superintendent, "but now it looks as if there will be no room for him when he is ready to go to school there."

The majority of the parents and community activists who addressed the forum, which was jointly sponsored by The Wave and the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce, wanted information and satisfaction on the PS 114 question.

There were few others in the audience of 175 who rose to speak or to ask questions.

"I was very surprised that all of the people at the forum were from Belle Harbor and Neponsit," a Chamber representative told The Wave. "I wonder if that lack of parental interest in what goes on in the schools is part of the problem with education in Rockaway."

At the end of the open question period, Bromme did admit that he was now ready to take care of the problem.

"I would be foolish to sit here and listen to all of you parents and then go to work tomorrow morning and not do something to address this issue," Bromme said. "There will be room in the program for all of the children who live in the PS 114 zone."

There were few surprises generated by the forum, but some of the proclamations from the dais did surprise or delight those in the audience.

Terri Thomson, who has been in a dispute with borough president Claire Shulman, the woman who appointed her to the seat on the central board, told the crowd that " I don’t have time for politics, but I have lots of time to devote to school children."

She indicated that she was not going to accede to Shulman’s demand that she resign her position on the board.

Bromme startled the crowd by telling them of a plan to place "at-risk" children in classrooms in the building housing the district office.

"There are lots of people leaving that building and that creates room for an alternative education setting in the same building as the district office," he said.

Thomson also spoke of an alternative site for disruptive kids. She admitted that the borough’s Second Opportunity School (SOS) was behind the curve because of community opposition in Long Island City.

"We are planning a new site in Western Queens, but I can’t tell you where it is yet because the community would not allow us to build it there," she said.

The moderator for the evening was Chamber president Liz Sulik. The local panelists, who conducted the initial questioning were Howard Schwach, the newly-appointed managing editor of The Wave and John Lepore, the vice president of the Rockaway Chamber of Commerce.

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