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The role of parent coordinators in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's restructuring of city schools received special scrutiny Tuesday night at a public meeting with Judith Chin, superintendent-designate of Region 3, the new instructional division that will cover School District 26.
The meeting at MS 67 in Little Neck, which was sponsored by the Douglaston Civic Association and the parent-teacher associations of MS 67, PS 221, PS 94 and PS 98 drew about 100 parents the night before students were set to take citywide math exams.
Chin shied away from answering specific questions about how the new structure would be funded, instead focusing on her goal of raising achievement levels for all students.
"I have a vested interest in making sure that things stay, not the same but that we reach higher standards for all our students," said Chin, a Little Neck resident with a 7-year-old child in a local public school.
District 26, the top-ranked in the city, is set to be combined with Districts 25, 28 and 29 into Region 3 under the restructuring plan.
"District 26 will be a model for all of New York City as well as Region 3," said Chin.
A controversial component of the plan is the installation of a parent coordinator in every school to serve as a liaison between parents and the principals, a role that PTA members contended was at best unnecessary and at worst a bureaucratic roadblock between parents and administrators.
"The parent coordinator is not empowered to make decisions," said Chin, who emphasized that the coordinators would field specific questions from parents about their children and free up principals to focus on the bigger picture of teaching and learning.
The parent coordinator would report directly to the principal, but it would be up to the PTAs to advise on the selection and make sure the parent coordinator is doing a good job, Chin said.
Qualifications for the position, which will pay between $30,000-$35,000 depending on experience, include a bachelor's degree and two years' experience in getting parents involved in schools, or an associate's degree and four years' experience or a high school diploma and six years' experience.
Former City Council candidate Dennis Saffran and Kathy Panaro, co-president of the PTA at PS 94, decried the hiring of math and literacy coaches for every school as a waste of money in District 26, which already excels academically.
Panaro wanted to know if money for the coaches could be spent instead on a music program.
"It's not going to happen that way," said Chin, who touted the professional development and support the coaches would provide for teachers and principals.
Despite their frustration at the meeting, parents were heartened to learn that District 26 Deputy Superintendent Anita Saunders would stay on as an instructional supervisor in Region 3 and that local principals would not be transferred to lower-performing schools as had been feared.
Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2003 Community Newspaper Group
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