2004-02-13 / Community

Cashin’s Reorganization Plan Hits School Board Speed Bump

By Brian Magoolaghan
Cashin’s Reorganization Plan Hits School Board Speed Bump By Brian Magoolaghan


Community School Board 27 members Ernest Brown, left, and David R. Hooks. The two long-time school board members registered “no”votes on the proposed school reorganization plan, leaving the board one vote short of the number needed for its passage. School board president Steve Greenberg has vowed to place the issue back on the agenda, even if a special meeting is necessary to do so.Community School Board 27 members Ernest Brown, left, and David R. Hooks. The two long-time school board members registered “no”votes on the proposed school reorganization plan, leaving the board one vote short of the number needed for its passage. School board president Steve Greenberg has vowed to place the issue back on the agenda, even if a special meeting is necessary to do so.

Two school board members stifled the plan to reorganize Rockaway public schools right after a hearing where most parents voiced approval for the plan – including the creation of a Schol ar’s Academy – on Wednesday night.

Community School Board 27 Pres ident Steve Greenberg, who was the last to speak before the vote, urged the rest of the board to approve the resolution in front of them.

"We can put a school in Rockaway that could be one of the best in New York City," he said, adding that it would give kids something "to aspire to."

Greenberg’s hands trembled on the microphone as he made his emotional plea – recalling his own educational aspirations, which he said were in spired by his mother.

"A vote of ‘no’ is a vote for continued failure," he said and then began the call for a vote in his familiar way.

"Mr. Brown?" said Greenberg.

"No," answered Brown.

"Mr. Hooks?" said Greenberg.

"No," Hooks answered.

The resolution was dead at that moment: It needed the support of five of the six members present.

After polling the other members, all of whom supported the resolution, Greenberg gave his support, for the record, and vowed to bring the resolution back to the table a future meeting.

Region Five Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Cashin, who had earlier told the audience of more than 200 people that "it would be much easier if we joined together and did this," left with other Department of Education representatives following the vote.

"I’m not going to give up," she told supporters of the plan as she made her exit. Cashin has been a frequent visitor to the Rockaways since she was appointed.

The school board’s vote came at the end of a long public hearing where nearly 40 parents took about three minutes each to share their opinions. About 30 speakers expressed strong support for the plan.

But Brown and Hooks’ votes did not come as a shocking surprise. Brown has gone on record before asking for more specific information on the reorganization, particularly what options will be available to K-8 zone students. He and Greenberg disagreed over whether the Scholar’s Academy and the ALPS Programs are legitimate options for young zone students at the sunshine meeting, held right before the general meeting.

Just prior to the voting against the reorganization Brown summarized
his worry.

"The ‘Talented Ten’ will be taken care of85 but what about the rest?" he asked.

Hooks put it another way. He said he wants to know how the "little people" living east of Beach 96 Street will be affected.

Cashin tried to assure them earlier when she promised, "every child under [her] care is going to have a choice."

Hooks had asked for more information on the reorganization in writing at the sunshine meeting – but District Superintendent Rita Giaramita fielded his questions, apparently without giving Hooks the anwers he was looking for. And both Giaramita and Greenberg told Hooks that much of the detail he was looking for was already written into the three-page resolution that was available to those who at tended the meeting when they entered the auditorium.

The six school board members who were present at the meeting did ap prove a resolution to make P.S. 104 in Bayswater into a Pre-K through grade 6 school.

They also supported the application process for Magnet Schools Assistance Program for P.S 183 and 225 and Channel View School for Research and Beach Channel High School.

On Thursday, Greenberg was checking to see how soon the board could readdress the plan. Three board members, who could tip the balance, were absent from Wednesday’s meeting: James G. Adams, Shalom Becker and Art Beroff.

As it stands right now, Greenberg said, Brown and Hooks "voted for
failure."


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