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Parent councils short dozens of representatives citywide

Parent councils that are meant to serve as watchdogs over public school districts continue to be so understaffed that the Manhattan borough president is recruiting volunteers online.

A member of Scott Stringer’s staff contacted GothamSchools today to ask for help finding volunteers to fill two slots on Manhattan Community Education Councils. Those councils were created in 2002 by the same state law that gave control of the city’s schools to the mayor, to ensure a forum for parent input in the new governance structure. The law gives CECs oversight of districts’ academic and financial performance, zoning, and education and capital plans.

Finding volunteers could be difficult. In 2007, Stringer himself released a report, titled “Parents Dismissed” (pdf), that cataloged council members’ dissatisfaction with the level of training and support offered by the Department of Education. A survey conducted by his office found that 71 percent of council members had seen a colleague resign during the school year out of frustration.

That frustration has persisted through changes in the DOE’s parent outreach initiatives: Right now, 26 of the city’s 34 councils currently have vacancies, according to the DOE’s press office. Altogether, there are currently 66 openings for parents who want to get involved. Thirteen of those vacancies must be filled by borough presidents, and the Public Advocate has another slot to fill. (Borough presidents are actually permitted to appoint people who are not public school parents, the only way non-parents can join the councils.)

Interested in joining a CEC? Contact your district’s council for information. Below the jump, information from Stringer’s office on how to apply for the Manhattan spots.

Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer seeks qualified, community-oriented individuals to serve on Community Education Councils (CEC).

Openings are available in CEC District 1 (Lower East Side and Chinatown) and CEC 4 (East Harlem).

Established by state law, Community Education Councils (CECs) act as the community’s voice in the educational decision making process for public elementary, intermediate and junior high schools. Working with the Department of Education, CEC members provide hands-on leadership and support for their community’s public schools. Responsibilities include: attending monthly public meetings, approving school zoning lines, holding hearings on the capital plan, evaluating community superintendents and providing input on other important policy issues.

Applicants must live or work in CEC District 1 or 4 and should have a strong interest in public school education.

For more information or to apply, please contact Jason Welch at 212.669.4546 or at jwelch@manhattanbp.org.

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