Today’s news:

School Board 26 welcomes Baysider as newest member

After several weeks of interviews Bayside’s School Board 26 officially welcomed a new member last week during its monthly meeting at MS 74.

Pradeep Tandon, 53, of Bayside was selected as the board’s ninth member after Monica McFadden stepped down earlier this year. School Board 26 President Sharon Maurer said Tandon had only to fill out paperwork at the city Board of Education to become an official school board member.

School District 26 includes schools in Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens, Glen Oaks, Auburndale, Hollis Hills, and parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Floral Park and Bellerose. It has been the highest performing school district in the city for years.

Tandon, who has lived with his wife and two children in Bayside since 1987, emigrated to Queens from India 20 years ago, he said during a telephone interview last week. Tandon works in the financial sector in Manhattan.

Though his daughter had a good experience in District 26 schools and eventually made her way to Stuyvesant High School, a highly regarded citywide school, Tandon said he and his wife were concerned about the large public school classes she attended.

When his son’s private school also began to show signs of crowding, Tandon said he and his wife chose to send him back to the public schools, where he is enrolled at MS 74 in Bayside.

Michael Mazun, principal of MS 74, praised Tandon as an active parent.

“He’s a totally committed person who has nothing but the best interest of MS 74 and the education system in him,” Mazun said.

City school board members are normally elected to their posts, but a highly politicized debate about how city schools are governed pushed the state Legislature into delaying the May 2001 school board elections by a year. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on a quest to gain total control of city schools, has said he would favor eliminating local school boards while many state legislators from Queens disagreed.

A member of MS 74’s Parent Teacher Association and School Leadership Team, Tandon said he wants to encourage parents to be more involved in their children’s education.

“I find that many parents are uninterested,” he said. “Unless they take an active and interested role in the education of their own children, I don’t think they can leave it to the schools.”

Tandon said he would like to work to address overcrowding in the district and help find new homes for the school board and districtwide offices, which take up space at MS 74.

“I think it’s my time to give back,” he said. “I have no hidden agenda. I’d like to give back to the society that has given me so much.”

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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