Gov OK’s Delay In School Vote
By Howard Schwach
Governor George Pataki has signed legislation postponing the community school board elections scheduled for this May.
State lawmakers had passed the legislation earlier in the month as they continue to decide if the school boards should be modified or abolished entirely.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has asked the legislature to abolish not only the local community boards, but the central board as well.
Bloomberg believes that the mayor should have both control and accountability for the "failing school system."
Lawmakers were reportedly motivated by two separate and disparate reasons for postponing the election.
Some wanted to give the Elections Board a chance to redraw the city council and assembly districts, as mandated by law, without worrying about running an election where few typically show up to vote.
Others, however, were quoted as saying that it was not a good idea to run an expensive election for a body that they planned to abolish in the near future.
The central board is currently made up of seven members – one appointed by each of the five borough presidents and two appointed by the mayor.
Each of the 32 local community school boards is made up of nine members elected by the community. Less than four percent of the qualified voters took part in the last school board election and many believe that fact is an indictment of the system and a sign that it should be abolished for disinterest, if for nothing else.
Local board members serve for a three-year term and all of the members would have been up for reelection this year. The delay in the election extends their term for one year.
A number of the present members of Community School Board 27, which serves Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach and Ozone park, have indicted that they did not plan to run again, but would stay on the board during its extended tenure.