2003-12-26 / Editorial/Opinion

Everybody Wants School Change, But Mistrust Lingers

A number of things were made clear at last week’s Community School Board 27 at MS 180. The first and paramount of those things is that everybody wants a change in that troubled school. Not one person stood to say "leave MS 180 alone." That is a change from previous meetings, where the school’s parent association handed out t-shirts that said, "Hands Off Our School." As usual, however, the devil is in the details. Region Five Supervising Administrator Kathy Cashin’s original plan would have made MS 180 into a virtual annex for PS 114 in Belle Harbor, because the plan included a gifted program that would have required a test as well as a unit for students zoned for PS 114 from grades 5-8. That is no longer true. Testing for the gifted program is no longer on the table. Criteria for the gifted program will now include music, art and sports talent, according to a rundown given by Cashin at a recent CSB 27 meeting at the school. Will the plan still include moving the PS 114 grades 5-8 to MS 180? After the meeting, Cashin was approached by The Wave with that question. "I can’t talk to you about it," Cashin said. "I am not allowed to speak with you." PS 114 principal Brian O’Connell said that he did not know, and neither did the MS 180 principal, George Giberti. It is clear, however, that Cashin is going ahead with her plan to open a Channel View Academy at Beach Channel High School for students in Grades 6-12. Some parents asked how she could put 11 and 12 year-old students in such as dangerous situation. She answered that Beach Channel High School was under control since the recent personnel changes and that parents would have an option not to send their young child to the school. Even a cursory look at the statistics will show that BCHS is still a dangerous building, not one in which you would place pre-teenagers. Is she being disingenuous, or does she not know? Either thought is troubling. In any case, change must come. We can only hope that sanity and safety trump political expediency for once.

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