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City Board of Education President William Thompson, speaking last Thursday to members of the Eleanor Roosevelt Regular Democratic Club in Floral Park, agreed to meet with Bell Park Manor-Terrace residents to discuss zoning problems they face in their fight to send their kids to District 26 schools.
"I would be happy to meet with the parents along with Terri Thomson (Queens' representative on the Board of Education) to discuss the situation," Thompson told the group's attorney, Rory Lancman, a Democratic candidate vying for state Sen. Frank Padavan's (R-Bellerose) seat.
A meeting date has not been set.
Since the summer, residents of the Bell Park Manor apartment complex have been working with both Board 26 and Board 29 after learning that while the entire development is zoned for District 26, school district address directories place about 10 percent of its residents in District 29.
District 26 includes Bayside, Little Neck, Douglaston, Glen Oaks, and parts of Auburndale, Fresh Meadows and Bellerose, while District 29 covers Queens Village, Laurelton, Springfield Gardens, Rosedale and parts of Jamaica.
A small portion of the development in the northwestern corner and a much larger section of the complex south of Hillside Avenue are specifically affected by the problem.
In November, School Board 26 completed an investigation that determined six addresses in the complex's northwestern corner belonged to District 26 rather than District 29.
But 126 families living south of Hillside Avenue in the development are still zoned for District 29 and continue to fight for a change.
"I am glad for the meeting," said Kirby Lindell, president of the Bell Park Manor-Terrace board. "I believe that we have more of an opportunity to get the necessary changes done with the help of Thompson and Terri Thomson."
Kathy Taylor, Bell Park Manor Community Council president, said the meeting could be a positive step in resolving the situation. After Thompson spoke about holding teachers and administrators accountable, she said, "I am holding him accountable" for resolving the situation.
At the meeting, held at Temple Sholom, Thompson discussed grading the school system, accountability of the Board of Education and the promotion policy and standards
He told the 25 or so people at the meeting that if he was forced to give the school system a grade, he would give it an "incomplete." He said some schools would receive an "A," while others would be given an "F," but the vast majority would get a "C."
"What you have is a work in progress," Thompson said.
The school system structure needs changing, he said, and the Board of Ed, the superintendents, principals and teachers must all be held accountable and responsible if the system does not run properly.
Thompson said students had been promoted without regard for their test scores or grades, but the Board of Ed has now ended social promotion.
"If a student did not perform, if they are not up to grade level, they will not be promoted," said Thompson. "Social promotion, the passing of a student through high school as a functional illiterate, is wrong."
The Board of Ed has sent parents letters telling them that unless their child achieves a certain test score on standard exams, their teacher would determine if he or she had learned the basics needed to succeed in the next grade. If a student has not attended class, he or she will have to attend summer school.
©2000 Community Newspaper Group
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