2003-01-11 / Front Page

School Ax To Cut District 27 Office

By Howard Schwach

By Howard Schwach

A staff member at the city’s education department, talking on the condition that The Wave would protect his identity, has said that, perhaps as early as the end of this school year, District 27 and the other 31 school districts would become a legal fiction – an entity in name only.

The plan, which could be revealed as early as next week in the Mayor’s "State of the City" report, reportedly calls for "clusters" of schools that form a natural community base.

For example, as it was explained to The Wave, Beach Channel High School would form a cluster with its two feeder middle schools, MS 180 and MS 198. That cluster would be joined by the elementary schools that feed those middle schools. In this case, PS 114, PS 225, PS 183, PS 42 and PS 225. There would be a similar cluster of Far Rockaway schools around Far Rockaway High school and Middle School 53, according to our source.

There would be one superintendent, with a limited staff, for several clusters.

Because doing away with the districts would require a nod from the state legislature and the feds, Mayor Bloomberg reportedly intends to keep those districts in name only, denuding them of staff and resources.

The top 150 performing schools in the city, which, for Rockaway, includes only PS 114, would reportedly network with other like schools and would be left alone in the new plan.

More than 4,000 people work at the 32 district offices throughout the city. The plan is unclear as to how many would be retained under the new plan. There was no doubt in our informant’s mind, however, that eighty or ninety percent of those who now work in district offices will have to find positions in school buildings, either as teachers or administrators.

It was also unclear as to how many superintendents would lose their jobs in the reorganization.

The plan would reportedly create a new level of bureaucracy as well, creating five borough-wide service centers to handle the administrative tasks that cannot be handled at the school level.

Key tasks now done by the districts, such as hiring principals and teachers and approving school transfers would be done by the individual schools, by the borough assistance centers and by the chancellor’s staff.

"The idea is to cut the budget and to bring the decision-making closer to the ultimate consumer—the student and the parent," the school official said. "The idea is to make education better for all students."

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