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SB 24 moves forward with super search

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The superintendent search that has dragged on for more than two years took another baby step forward at School Board 24’s meeting last Thursday, one day before members of a search committee were to begin reviewing candidates’ resumes.

The board also scheduled a series of public hearings on zoning changes that will occur when two new schools open in September, and approved resolutions that would rename two new wings after a student and teacher who died.

At the end of the meeting at PS 12 on 72nd Street, board members voted to include only one item on their list of “preferred criteria” for a new superintendent — that he have experience as an administrator on both the elementary and intermediate school levels.

Board President Pat Grayson said in an interview after the meeting that the preferred criteria is useful to help the school board choose between two candidates who are otherwise “equally wonderful.”

The superintendent hiring process has been long delayed by grievances filed over the school board’s creation of a C37 committee, which consists of parents, community leaders and unionized school employees who review candidates and present five choices to the school board. The board ultimately presents two candidates from those five to Chancellor Harold Levy, who makes the final choice.

Although School Board 24 decided in 1999 not to renew the contract of Superintendent Joseph Quinn, he has served as interim acting superintendent since his contract expired in July 2000.

Parents from the C37 committee who attended last Thursday’s meeting reminded board members that their committee is an independent body and does not have to consider the board’s preferred criteria.

“We can totally ignore what you want in a superinten­dent,” said Gloria Morgenstern, a co-president of the School District 24 Presidents’ Council, which is made up of PTA presidents from district schools.

The board ultimately chose to approve only one criterion because the mandated list of 31 criteria for a superintendent is already so comprehensive.

Out of 29 people who originally applied for the position more than a year ago, 22 are still interested and two withdrew their names, a school board employee said. The district has not received a response from the remaining five.

Members of the C37 committee began reading resumés Friday and will continue until Feb. 11, at which point they will hold interviews and submit five names to the board by early March.

At the end of the meeting, the board scheduled five public hearings in neighborhoods around the district to discuss zoning changes that will occur when two new schools and other facilities open in September. (See chart for hearing times and locations.)

Overcrowding in the district will be alleviated by the use of PS 58, a new elementary school in Maspeth, and PS 28, an early-learning center for kindergarten through second grade in Corona. Also scheduled to open are a new wing at PS 91 and the main building at PS 153, which had been closed for repair.

The district’s zoning will be changed to redistribute students in the new facilities.

“I’m going to really try to make sure a parent doesn’t get a letter in June and, big surprise, my child isn’t going to the school I thought he was,” Grayson said.

Board members also approved resolutions to name an addition to PS 91 the “Jamie Noelle Kocher Early Childhood Wing,” after a 12-year-old student who died of brain cancer, and a new wing at IS 77 after Frank Sansivieri, a community leader and teacher at IS 73 who died in a car accident.

But parents who attended the meeting complained that the resolutions were tacked onto the agenda at the last minute and therefore did not receive adequate community input.

“I just don’t think that’s right,” said Marge Kolb Corridan, who told board members they were misusing their right to submit emergency resolutions without notice.

Caroline DeFelice told school board members that another student and teacher from PS 91 had also died from cancer and wondered why only one received recognition in the name of a wing.

“How would it make them feel if we choose one over another?” she said of the surviving family members.

Grayson said she considered criticism about naming schools for the deceased to be inappropriate for the board meeting and directed those with complaints to a representative of the central Board of Ed.

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

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