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Proposed legislation would force DOE to seek local approval for co-locations
Measure would increase the role of Community Education Councils, add more local voice in school decisions
February 28, 2012
Members of the New York State Assembly and Senate, joined by parents and members of the city's Community Education Councils, on Feb. 28 announced their support for proposed legislation that would give the local councils veto power over proposed school co-locations in their districts.
Assembly Member Keith Wright is sponsoring legislation that would ensure that no school could be co-located with another, reconfigured or re-sited unless the Community Education Council for the area approves it.
Mr. Wright said: "Under mayoral control of the schools, local school district boards were replaced by Community Education Councils, but the CEC's have been left powerless and their views ignored by the Tweed bureaucracy. We need to restore a local voice in the running of local schools, particularly on the controversial issue of school co-locations."
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said: "The Panel for Educational Policy, controlled by Mayor Bloomberg, has repeatedly approved school co-locations that have not worked for the schools and children involved. Our schools belong to our communities, not to the mayor. It's time we brought those communities back into these critical decisions."
State Senator Velmanette Montgomery said, "I resolutely support this legislation which will restore the voices of public school families to the decision making process and correct the DOE's practice of forcing co-locations on our overburdened schools system."
Assembly Member Rafael L Espinal Jr. said, "Decisions that greatly affect public schools and our children must move away from a dictatorial process. This is a great first step in bringing a fair democratic system to often times unwanted co-locations."
NYS Assemblywoman Grace Meng said, "The Department of Education needs to increase opportunities for our students, not minimize them. I support this legislation to bring power back to the community — the ones who know our students best."
Assemblywoman Vanessa L. Gibson said, "City Hall's bait-and-switch policies promise parents and educators a real role, only to ignore their voices when it comes time to make the decisions about our schools that affect the lives of our children."
Assembly Member Karim Camara said, "The proposed legislation will not only give voice but the opportunity to influence the decisions on co-locations. I will continue to work with parents and community to engage them in the decisions that have a profound impact on children's education."
City Council Member Letitia James said, "I support the proposed legislation that would force the city's Department of Education to seek local approval in order to co-locate schools. The DOE has disrespected and tried to silence the voices of these parents who were given the direct charge to help shape educational policies and priorities in their districts."
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez said, "When we're talking about our children's educations, why should any voice be more important than that of the parents? Right now the co-location process leaves the parents without much of a say."
Since Mayor Bloomberg took control of the school system, approximately 800 schools have been co-located with others; the total includes both charter schools and district schools. Local parents and officials have complained that these co-locations often mean overcrowding that forces students to have lunch as early as 10 a.m. or the loss of important spaces like art and music rooms, and even libraries and gyms. The co-locations also often mean that successful schools cannot expand.
There are 32 Community Education Councils based on the 32 Community School Districts into which the city's elementary and middle schools are divided.
Each CEC has 11 voting members, including nine parents of students elected by voters in that district. Borough presidents appoint two additional voting members who are district residents or who own or operate a business in the district.