2002-02-02 / Front Page

One-Year Hold On School Board Vote Greenberg: ‘Constructive Year' Or ‘Spinning Wheels’

By Howard Schwach

One-Year Hold On School Board Vote
Greenberg: 'Constructive Year' Or 'Spinning Wheels'
By Howard Schwach

The New York State legislature voted on Monday to postpone the school board elections scheduled for this May for at least a year, extending the terms of the members now on the local board until 2003.

Why the election was postponed depends on which legislator has the floor.

State Senator Serph Maltese, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, says that he did it at the request of the Board of Elections, which has to redraw 5,000 elections districts in the city.

"We do not want them to have the board rushing to complete that job and risk the integrity of future elections," Maltese says.

On the other hand, Assembly Steven Silver, the chair of the powerful Assembly Education Committee, says that the election was postponed to "give the legislature time to discuss the future of community school boards."

Silver says that his vote was motivated not by the redistricting nor the money the postponement would save the city, but by the "possibility that the legislature might decide to alter or eliminate the school boards."

"Considering the current debate under way regarding New York City school governance, it is appropriate that we postpone the election for a year," Silver says.

Local school board president Steve Greenberg, who had indicated that he was not going to run for another term, is "personally happy" about the postponement, but unsure what it means for the future of school boards in general and specifically for Community School Board 27.

"If, during this year, we can sit down and evaluate the board process and come up with a new form of local input, then this can be a positive experience, a constructive year" Greenberg told The Wave. "On the other hand, if this is a done deal and there is no debate, no discussion, then we are just spinning our wheels."

Greenberg told The Wave that the school board presidents recently met with Dennis Walcott, the mayor's point person on education issues.

"Walcott came into the meeting stating his desire to do away with school boards. He left with a view that changed from doing away with the boards to modifying them in some way to allow for community input into the educational process." Greenberg says.

"We told him what we do and why we are necessary," he added. "We know the mayor wants complete control, but parents and students have to have a voice as well."

Greenberg believes that the boards are necessary and that they should be retained, even in a restructured manner.

"We are the eyes and ears of the community when it comes to education," Greenberg concludes. "We are the only community advocates for children and parents."

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