2002-12-07 / Columnists

Simon Says….

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

From the Desk of Lew M. Simon,
Democratic District Leader, 23rd A.D. Part B

Last week I was contacted by cell phone concerning the coordinated effort by DOT and Welsbach, the company that maintains street lights. We are proud to announce that State Road from Beach 169 Street to the tip of Breezy Point now has lights, except for one, which needs special attention.

On Monday evening we attended the second meeting of the rezoning committee for District 27 Rockaway schools. After all the hoopla and the mistake made by Martin Barr at the first meeting, there is now a Plan 2 to allow all Redfern students to attend the new P.S. 253.

A lot of parents were up in arms about P.S. 105 and P.S. 42 absorbing Ocean Village children. P.S. 105 parents are glad they are off the SURR list of low performing schools and are very happy they have continued to have class sizes of under 20 children. It is definitely working and is making P.S. 105 an excellent school.

Who said you can't go home again? For all those who know anything about me know I'm a proud grad of P.S. 105. Principal Lori Shapiro greeted me and welcomed me while her Assistant Principal Lisa Josephson took me on a walk down memory lane to tour the building. I was very impressed looking in all the classrooms, hallways and at the classroom doors. They exhibited all of the wonderful education material the children have learned. It is quite apparent students at P.S. 105 are excelling at their work. Hats off to the principal, assistant principal and staff for a job well done.

Some parents were concerned about the return of grade 5 from M.S. 198. Other parents expressed concern about maintaining the Robin Hood grant, which they have been receiving. One of the parents from P.S. 42 was concerned about possible gang violence involving rivalry between Ocean Village and Edgemere and Arverne.

School Superintendent Matt Bromme gave his full commitment to parents of P.S. 105 that as long as funding is available he has no intention of changing class size or anything else. A number of parents from Arverne Edgemere were quite concerned that P.S. 114 seemed to be deleted from the school rezoning maps. Sandy Brauer of District 27 said this was an oversight. Sister Sonia Weber-Bey questioned if they were going to upzone P.S. 114. This caused quite a stir with parents screaming.

Where would we be without a school board. Will the parents be denied the right to speak and support their children's school? Will there be a deaf ear on education with the mayor's control of the Department of Education? It is imperative that we make the state legislature, our State Senators and Assembly members know how we feel on this very important matter. It is important that school board elections are held in November and on voting machines not on paper ballots. Don't stay home and complain because as of June 2003 your voice will not be heard unless you speak out now.

There will be a public hearing of the State Task Force on school governance on Thursday December 12 at Queens Borough Hall. One session will be from 10AM to 4PM and another from 6PM to 9PM.

Community Board 27 has compiled some reasons why local school boards are needed:

Without local school district representation, someone in Manhattan will make decisions that will directly affect where your child attends school and what policies will be adopted for your schools and communities.

Without local school district representation, you will have to go to Manhattan to see your Chancellor or your Superintendent. Why is NYC singled out for this loss and the rest of New York State retains the representation of an elected local school board?

Some of the powers the local board wants to retain are:

--To conduct public hearings on the Five Year Capital Plan and submit recommendations to the Chancellor.

--To conduct public hearings on site acquisition and on the preliminary scope of the capital projects and to make recommendations to the Chancellor on both items.

--To be required to hold monthly meetings in the local school district under the Open Meetings Law. These meetings should be open to public participation. The Superintendent should be required to be present at these meetings.

--The local elected school board should be required to keep the public informed and to advocate for the needs of the community on education issues.

On Tuesday evening we attended and spoke out along with other Rockaway residents at the hearing of the NYC redistricting commission on the proposed City Council district lines. We urged them to make Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point one district as it had been for many years.

New York City has treated Rockaway shamefully. We frequently hear, Rockaway, Broad Channel and Breezy Point are always being dumped on. Rockaway needs your assistance to continue to unify to have a feeling of community to speak with one voice on our critical issues.

Instead they propose to split up Rockaway and its peninsula in two, 28% in District 32 and the rest to District 31. We share the same Community Board, two hospitals, two high schools, etc.

I propose a new council district including all of the Rockaway peninsula, Broad Channel, Breezy Point and such additional area as needed. To do less would splinter my community. Do not fail us now with a plan that will tear the very fabric of our Rockaways apart. WE WANT UNITY!

We attended the opening of Busy Bee's Learning Store on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see all the many people from Rockaway, Broad Channel, Breezy Point, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Richmond Hill who stopped by to purchase educational materials for their children or classrooms. We hope you will continue to support their store at 111-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard.


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