2003-12-12 / Editorial/Opinion

What Role For Community In School Plans?

What Role For Community In School Plans?

What Role For Community In School Plans?

Lost in all of the controversy over the nuts and bolts of the reorganization plan for Rockaway’s middle schools is the fact that there reportedly is no body of parents or community people who will be asked to review the plan and vote on its efficacy. Part of the problem is that Community School Board 27, which is tasked by law to review all rezoning plans (which this plan most certainly is) is a "lame duck" organization that is presently hanging on by the skin of its collective teeth. The mayor’s plan called for the elected, nine-member school boards to be disbanded last June. They were to be replaced by eleven-member Parent Councils in each district. While the school boards were elected by the public (even though only four percent of the electorate showed up to vote), the new councils would be chosen by the three top members of each of the parent associations in the district. That plan has yet to be vetted by the federal government, which has a mandate to insure that the voting rights of minorities are not diminished by the plan. The feds have not yet vetted the plan, and we doubt that they ever will. Cashin seems to believe that she can bypass the school board and go directly to parents to approve the plan. She has been meeting in individual meetings at a number of schools and at Breezy Point (where, by the way, outsiders were kept from attending the meeting by a sign-in sheet that allowed only coop members to attend). Despite the fact that the board is a lame duck, Cashin should not attempt to bypass its authority. If the plan is a good one, the board will pass it and move on. If it does not allow all Rockaway students to find a decent place for an education, however, they will not pass it. At least, they should have that option as the duly elected representatives of the community in school matters. That process, by the way, includes a public meeting at each of the schools affected by the plan. Cashen can do no less than allow that process to proceed.

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