2002-03-09 / Editorial/Opinion

Why School Boards Are Necessary

Why School Boards Are Necessary

The debate over the question of school governance has been raging in the press and in the halls of our political leaders for months now. On the table is a proposal to do away with local school board and replace them with borough boards or with some mechanism beholding only to the mayor. We think that this would be a mistake and we have the perfect example of why this would be a mistake to share with you. The majority of people who live on the peninsula are excited about the building boom now taking place. Drive in any direction and you will see new home construction. Those middle-class homes will become a driving force in the revitalization of Rockaway. There is a downside to the massive increase in new homes, however, and it took three members of the school board to discover the danger that lies in building new homes without planning for new schools as well. Steve Greenberg, James Adams and Ernest Brown recently took a several hours-long drive into every nook and cranny in Rockaway. They detailed the home building activity that they found during their journey of discovery. They found more than 700 new one and two-family homes being developed on the peninsula. This might well translate in more than 2,000 or 3,000 new students for Rockaway schools over the next year to year and a half. Being school board members, they know that most of Rockaway's elementary schools are already overcrowded, or will soon be. At the last meeting, they brought this information to the other board members, to the community and to the media. Add the additional students to the fact that there will be no new schools because of the budget shortfall, and you have a disaster in the making. The school board will soon begin to plan to address that disaster. Had there not been a local board, however, who would have made that trip? Who would fight for new schools for Rockaway? Who would care about Rockaway's disaster in the making? The answer is that nobody would have cared. Not a borough board, not a mayor who knows where Rockaway is only because of flight 587 and the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We need the local boards as a vital link between parents and the bureaucracy. There is no other group that can fill that role.

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