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By Adam Kramer
School Board 29 last week rejected a resolution that would have eliminated zoning patterns that funnel students to a particular institution but decided to convert the districts five middle schools into theme-based scholastic academies.
The nine-member group also postponed its vote on the hiring of an interim acting superintendent to run the 27,000-student school district.
At its monthly meeting last Thursday at IS 192 at 88-15 182nd St. in Hollis, the board determined it was in the best interest of the districts children to keep the theme-based academies and maintain the existing feeder patterns at the districts five middle schools.
The academies will offer special areas of study such as medical science, multimedia communications, music and fine arts.
The schools where the academies will be located are IS 59 in Springfield Gardens, IS 109 in Queens Village, IS 192 in St. Albans, IS 231 in Springfield Gardens and IS 238 in Hollis.
After careful consideration, meeting and listening to parents concerns, and taking into consideration the education of the children of District 29, the board voted to (reject) the resolution for school year 2001 -2002, said Kim Taylor, a school board member.
She said the board, which covers the area stretching from Queens Village to Springfield Gardens, Rochdale Village, Laurelton, Rosedale, Bellerose and parts of Jamaica and Fresh Meadows, would maintain the academies in each of the schools as well as the gifted and talented programs and the existing feeder patterns would continue.
The students would be assigned to the academy in their feeder school, which they had chosen during the application process.
Smaller schools will help the students, which is why we will continue with the academies, but we want to still discuss the feeder patterns, she said.
SB 29 President Nathaniel Washington said the board was concerned about the feeder provision of the resolution because it meant more than a third of the children would not get their first choice of an academy.
District Administrator Michael Johnson has repeatedly said the goal of the academies was to create a small learning environment to give students the opportunity to get to know their teachers and provide an area of interest for each student, which would help with attendance, study and achievement.
The district has been run for the past year by Johnson, who was appointed by Schools Chancellor Harold Levy. Levy has said he wants him to be named the superintendent because he believes he is the most qualified candidate, describing Johnson as one of the stars in the New York City school system.
Washington said the board was still collecting names of possible candidates for the job of interim acting superintendent. He said the board received a letter from the Presidents Association made up of the districts PTA presidents with 22 signatures supporting Johnson.
Hopefully, the next time we meet there will not be a district administrator, but a real live superintendent, Washington said. We want someone in place before June. We need to have continuity in the district.
He said the community is divided, there is a stalemate in choosing a new superintendent and the board wants to bring everybody together.
The chancellor has rejected all five of the candidates chosen by the districts C-37 superintendent search committee. He has said he would not turn down all candidates but would only approve candidates whom he considers better then Johnson.
The school district has been in turmoil for nearly two years since Celestine Miller was fired as superintendent in February 1999 by then-Chancellor Rudy Crew for delaying to report that an 8-year-old boy had gone into a Rosedale school carrying a loaded gun.
Since Millers dismissal, the school district has been in limbo. Miller was recently indicted on bid-rigging charges involving computer sales to schools under her control.
After Miller left, District 29 had an acting interim superintendent, but Levy suspended the school board, which was reinstated before Johnson arrived on the scene.
Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.
©2001 Community Newspaper Group
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