CB 11 wants cells allowed in schools

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Community Board 11 members voted 22-12 Monday to support a resolution that calls on Schools Chancellor Joel Klein to change the city's current policy and allow students to bring cell phones to schools.

As the city's policy currently stands, students are not allowed to take cell phones to school under any circumstances.

The CB 11 resolution, which was modeled after a resolution put forth by School District 26, suggests students can bring cell phones to school as long as they are not used or visible during school hours.

If the phones are taken out, they will be confiscated, said Community District Education Council 26 President Rob Caloras, a CB 11 member.

CB 11 and School District 26 cover much of the same area: Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and part of Auburndale.

Susan Seinfeld, CB 11's district manager, said the board plans to send a copy of its resolution to Klein, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, state Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan (D-Ridgewood) and other elected officials.

The purpose of the resolution is to put pressure on city leaders to change the policy and show the community's support for the change, Caloras said, pointing out that CDEC 26 already sent a similar resolution to officials.

At the board's meeting, Caloras gave a presentation explaining why a student should be able to bring a cell phone to school. During his presentation, Caloras argued that "in a post 9/11 world," parents might be comforted to know they can reach their child in case of emergency and said he knew at least six families who were able to stay connected on Sept. 11 because their children carried cell phones.

Frank Skala, the East Bayside Homeowners Association president, voiced his opposition to the presence of cell phones in schools, calling it "very uneducatio­nal."

Caloras said he understands the concern over cell phones, such as students using them to cheat or the phones being stolen by other students.

"We're not blind to that, but it's a balancing act," said Caloras, who has two children. "Most parents are willing to risk the possibility of [a cell phone] getting stolen over the sense of security that it gives."

Also at the meeting, the board voted 35-1 to make 38th Drive in Douglaston a one-way street traveling west. Bernard Haber, a retired engineer and CB 11 member, explained how it is difficult for drivers traveling east on 38th Drive to see oncoming traffic near the intersection of Douglaston Parkway.

Prior to Monday's meeting, CB 11 surveyed residents who lived on or near 38th Drive.

Of the 13 residents who responded to the survey, seven supported the one-way street proposal and six opposed it.

Reach reporter Katy Gagnon by e-mail at kgagnon@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:40 pm, October 10, 2011
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