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MidVille parents urge city to give up school control

Community Education Council 24 leaders and western Queens residents told city Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum that the city should not renew its petition for mayoral control of city schools for 2009 at a meeting last week in Middle Village.

Gotbaum said her office has been visiting neighborhoods throughout the city for one year, speaking with community education councils, teachers, principals and parents to determine whether Mayor Michael Bloomberg's control over the city's public school system has been effective since it took effect in 2002.

"We're trying to be extremely objective," Gotbaum said. "We trying to find the broadest spectrum throughout the city, leaving no one out. We want to know if mayoral control has been a sufficient system and whether parents feel they have a say."

Gotbaum said she intends to hold public hearings on mayoral control.

The state School Governance Commission was scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday at Queens Borough Hall, during which parents of students would be allowed to share their opinion of the current system. Mayoral control has given Bloomberg complete control over the city's 1,400 schools, disbanding the seven-member Board of Education in 2002 and creating the city's Department of Education.

Under the system, which abolished the boards that presided over the city's 32 community school districts, the city's schools chancellor reports directly to the mayor.

But CEC 24 leaders said they have not been pleased with the system. District 24 covers Maspeth, Middle Village, Ridgewood, Glendale, Elmhurst and Corona.

"There's no middle management," said CEC 24 President Nick Comaianni at the group's April 29 meeting at PS 49 in Middle Village. "We've lost a lot of say in the community we have no community voice."

Middle Village resident Robert Cermelli said he preferred the previous school board system to mayoral control, but did not think either system worked very well.

"Was the system perfect before? No," he said. "Is it better now? I don't think so."

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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