2003-04-19 / Community

Despite Reports, Smith Backs School Reorganization

By Howard Schwach
Despite Reports, Smith Backs School Reorganization By Howard Schwach

Despite Reports, Smith Backs School Reorganization
By Howard Schwach


Senator Malcolm Smith at a recent rally to support American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.Senator Malcolm Smith at a recent rally to support American troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Under the massive school reorganization plan backed by both the mayor and the school chancellor, community school districts would become a legal fiction in June of this year, existing on paper but with no staff, no facilities and no resources.

Instead of those 32 Community School Districts, each led by a superintendent, there would be 10 new administrative units headed by supervising administrators or regional superintendents.

According to reports in the Daily News on Thursday, April 17 Sate Senator Malcolm Smith, who represents Rockaway in the Senate, has joined with nine other state legislators in sponsoring legislation that would prevent the elimination of community school districts.

That, Smith told The Wave, is just not true. In fact, Smith says that he was called by Frank Padvan, the bill's sponsor and asked to co-sponsor the bill. Smith says he told him that he had no interest in the bill and to keep his name off.

"Our schools are not delivering, Smith said. "I am in favor of restructuring the school boards. They need to be restructured and I can go along with the mayor's plan."

"I just don't know where Padvan got that from," Smith said angrily, adding that he was going to call both Padvan and the Daily News as soon as he got off the phone with The Wave.

The bill would block the reorganization by requiring the city to retain "30 to 37" school districts, each with a superintendent, a support staff and office.

"Recent developments, including the announcement of the appointment of regional superintendents, the closing of district offices and the combining of current school districts into larger educational regions has been a real cause of concern," Padvan told reporters. "Essentially, these actions eliminate community school districts, something that is not allowed under the state's school governance law."

Padvan says that he hope the Assembly will pass a similar law, but Assemblyman Steven Sanders, the powerful head of the Assembly's Education Committee, says there is no reason for such a law.

"The law as it is written says that the mayor cannot do what he is doing," Sanders says. "We hope that we can get together to work out changes that we all can live with." Padvan does not seem interested in compromise.

"When we gave the mayor authority over our schools last year and increased accountability, we had no intention of seeing our school districts eliminated," Padvan concluded. "They keep telling us that is not what they are trying to do, but without superintendents and district offices, and by lumping districts into larger units, that's exactly what they are doing."


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