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Leadership teams in Dist. 30 had high turnout: City

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The leadership teams of two schools in Community School District 30 enjoyed unexpectedly high parental participation in 1999, an audit by the city comptroller’s office showed.

But the audit released last Thursday also revealed that School District 30 failed to monitor and supervise the school leadership teams, which led three other teams in the district to involve fewer parents than required.

The district did not provide adequate instruction to the teams on composing budgets, the audit found.

The performance audit examined three schools chosen at random — PS 2 at 75-10 21st Ave. in Jackson Heights, PS 76 at 36-36 10th St. in Long Island City, and IS 10 at 31st Avenue and 45th Street in Long Island City — as well as the district as a whole, which serves Astoria, Long Island City, Jackson Heights, East Elmhurst, Sunnyside, and sections of Woodside and Corona.

Designed to put greater school control on the local level, school leadership teams were authorized in 1996 by the state Legislature, which gave the New York City schools chancellor until 1999 to have teams in place at every school in the city.

“Now the individual schools make decisions in terms of allocating money for certain programs, for instance making a new computer room, buying more books for the library or hiring a new library aide,” said John Ciafone, vice president of School Board 30. “In other words, the schools have become more empowered to do certain things.

Primarily made up of parents and school personnel, the leadership teams must also include the school principal, Parent Association president and United Federation of Teachers chapter leader.

Although a plan issued by then-Schools Chancellor Rudy Crew in 1998 called for teams to have an equal number of parents and school personnel, it also acknowledged that schools may have difficulty filling the parent seats.

“Effective parent involvement, particularly the engagement of parents of diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds, may be a challenge beyond the capacity of individual schools and districts,” the plan stated.

With a population that includes more than 120 languages and ethnic groups, SD 30 faced enormous obstacles to involving parents in school leadership teams.

However, PS 2 and IS 10 stimulated so much interest through their parental involvement programs that both schools have a waiting list for parents wishing to join their teams, the audit reported.

On the district level, the failure to supervise the individual school leadership teams enabled three teams to get by with inadequate parental involvement.

“Some schools have terrific parents who are active, get involved, and take leadership positions,” Ciafone said. At schools where parental involvement is harder to come by, Ciafone was unsure whether the problem had more to do with apathy or inadequate efforts to involve them in the school.

The audit revealed that the district did not budget for the costs of implementing leadership teams and therefore never hired a facilitator to help schools set up the teams. The district will recruit a District School Leadership Teams coordinator to provide guidance to the teams at individual schools, the audit indicated.

The district also failed to train members of the leadership teams in methods of budgeting To address the problem, the district budget manager will provide annual budget training to principals and leadership team financial liaisons.

Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:03 pm, October 10, 2011
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