2003-01-25 / 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

Our next Atlantic City trip will be on Saturday, February 8. We leave at 5:30 p.m. and return at 8 a.m. We have 8 1/2 hours to enjoy Trump Marina. The cost is $28 with $17 returned. Movies and "eats" served on the bus. We leave from 112-20 Beach Channel Drive opposite Waldbaums.

On Thursday, January 2, at our weekly Good Government Regular Democratic club meeting, Walter and Barbara Reiche brought Robert and Theresa Ingui to discuss a major problem. Ballast rocks were being thrown from the Beach 90 Street station through their windows. The rocks also hit and destroyed the aluminum siding of their home and broke the shelf of their pet turtle. They also said the vandals were urinating on their home and exposing themselves from the train station.

We sat down at the end of the meeting at 10:15 p.m. and I immediately reached our State Senator, Malcolm Smith, on his cell phone. Malcolm made a commitment to reach the MTA the first thing in the morning. On Friday morning, Malcolm called to alert me he had an agreement with the MTA that they would begin installing the needed fencing on Monday, January 6. We also made an appointment for neighbors from homes surrounding the Beach 90, 98, 105 Street (Key Food) train stations.

We held the meeting at my office on Saturday January 11 at my office at 4 p.m. The senator was bombarded with numerous pictures and two baskets of ballast rocks. Walter Reiche gave a great presentation showing how to solve the problem. He proposed the installation of a metal grating which would stop anyone from getting the ballast rocks off the tracks.

He had computer printouts and pictures to show them how it was to be installed.

The senator was extremely impressed. The people in the room voiced their anger and hostility toward the MTA and the fact that their councilman had not responded to their cries for help. This is not a recent problem. There have been several decades of complaints.

Bloomberg announced his plan for the new structure of public education in NYC. Many of us in District 27 were outraged to see that District 27 was linked with Districts 19 and 23, which are in East New York and Brownsville, two of the lowest performing districts in NYC. Do you share my concern and anger?

District 27 is now the largest district geographically in the city. To expand it as far as Eastern Parkway and Atlantic Avenue is absurd. The new district would include elementary, middle and high schools. The high schools could include Maxwell and Jefferson as well as John Adams, Beach Channel and Far Rockaway. Sharing a district with Brooklyn will create other problems. Two different borough presidents and their education representatives will be responsible for this huge district. With the tremendous needs of Brownsville and East New York will we get our fair share? Who will be advocating for us? Who will run this district? How will they respond to us?

We question the plan of having the administrator of this new district located in the Tweed Building in Manhattan. Will they be able to work for the needs of the district, or will they be puppets for the mayor? These are just a few questions we have.

If you are upset and fed up start writing and calling Deputy Mayor Dennis M. Walcott (212) 788-3106, Borough President Helen Marshall and her appointee on the education board, Evita Belmonte at (718) 286-3000 and tell them to stop this chaotic, horrendous plan.

We spoke to Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer about the future of education on Wednesday, and she has made a full commitment that the quality of education will go up. Audrey presently sits on the legislative commission that is drawing the pan to replace the local school boards. She stated that the District 27 school board has done a fine job and she is proud of her great relationship with them.

On Tuesday evening we attended Community Board 14's monthly meeting. Joan Flynn addressed the community board about the Indian Point nuclear power plant. With the threat of terrorism and reports of how this could become another Chernobyl, NY residents have reason for concern. The plant is 50 miles away and fallout would cause a major catastrophe. Next month, a speaker will address the board on Indian Pont. There should be a deactivation of the Indian Point nuclear power plant immediately, in my opinion.

On Monday evening we attended the final meeting for the rezoning of Rockaway primary schools. It became quite apparent that I must have slept through some of the meetings when they discussed rezoning of PS 225. Originally, it was stated that the plan was for Ocean Village children to be allowed to attend their community schools, PS 105 and PS 42. It would also give the right to any child already attending PS 225 to continue there to graduate or opt out. It would also be available to their siblings.

We now have heard that the children of Ocean Village will be given the option of attending PS 225 or PS 105 or PS 42. So what happened to rezoning the peninsula? Under the federal legislation, "No Child Left Behind" parents have the right to move their children to any school that has available seats.

The purpose of rezoning our local schools is to provide a top quality education for all children. PS 225 has not had good ratings for three decades. What isn't working? One of my constituents, Ginger Smith of Rockaway Park feels, and I agree with her, that as discussed at the recent school board meetings attended by parents, educators, the district superintendent and the local school board, it is because a majority of the students are being bused so far away from their homes. A student cannot attend after school activities, receive extra help and one-on-one tutoring, visit the school library, socialize, etc. The student does not fully adapt to the school's entire educational experience due to hopping on the one and only return bus at the sound of a dismissal bell. In addition, the students missing a school bus rarely are sent to school that day because of the distance from home to school. The scope even extends to parents not being able to volunteer at the school and attend parent teacher conferences due to distance conflicts. Further, Rockaway Park feels being divided keeps the community from working together as a whole and disrupts children's socialization skills dividing the community from its natural borderline, the east side of Beach 117 Street. Lastly, with the abundance of new housing in and around the 1 1/2 mile radius of PS225, it is time to embrace PS 225 as a neighborhood school and make it work. . . Let go of a line drawn down a community and a circled area mapped across the street from two local schools to attend PS225 imperfectly made 30 years ago. Who is out there who cares?

Democratic District Leader discusses local educational issues with Evita Belmonte the Queens member of the Board of Education, which advises the Chancellor.

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