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Crowding worries District 28 parents

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More than 100 parents gathered at IS 72 on Guy Brewer Boulevard, just off the grounds of Rochdale Village, a large cooperative development. The parents were mostly from the Jamaica and Richmond Hill area and none of the parents from Forest Hills, the northern end of the district, appeared to have made the trek down to IS 72.

Superintendent Neil Kreinik and most of his administrative staff were on hand to field questions from parents, as were all of the school board members, including Board President Shirley Huntley. While some of the questions focused on concerns specific to certain schools, many of the parents voiced more broad-based fears that children are no longer getting quality education in public schools.

"If I could take my children out of public schools, I would," said Margaret Gartrelle, a parent at PS 160 in Jamaica. Gartrelle questions how the $7,000 that the Board of Education spends per child annually is allocated.

"I don't see the $7,000," said Gartrelle.

But Huntley said "$7,000 is not a lot of money" and pointed out that in some schools it is more apparent money has been well spent. "We need more money for education," she said.

Gartrelle then turned away from the panel of board members and administrators and addressed the parents, urging them to become more involved in their children's education.

"We need to get parents to go to meetings," she said. "We need to get our moneys worth," she said, referring to tax dollars which go towards education.

"It was different when I was parenting," said Huntley. "They knew to go to school, do what they had to do and come home. If they didn't, they knew what would happen to them."

She said now parents' schedules are so hectic they are often not able to discipline their children.

"In all communities, you need people to watch others,"Huntley said, referring to the importance of local school boards .

Allison Justice, a parent at PS 54 in Richmond Hill, asked how to go about getting a computer lab at the school.

Kreinik said until this year there had been no space for a computer lab at the school, and parents should write their council members and state representatives requesting funding for the computer lab.

Another parent asked why paraprofessionals were being transferred out of kindergarten classrooms across the districts. Kreinik said the extra staffing was added to kindergartens since many were overcrowded, but now most of the kindergarten classes do not have more than 25 students.

Many of the paraprofessionals were transferred to other classrooms teaching students from the first to the sixth grade.

"We have to use our resources in the best way possible," said Kreinik. "We want to provide for all our children."

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