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CEC: we need changes

Williamsburg’s Community Education Council of District 14 welcomed its newest members, Reginald Greene, Elizabeth Oyola, and Kenneth Paneto onto its board this week, as they immediately pondered state political discussions which would determine the future of their existence.

“I think the CECs will be back, but I can’t really say,” said CEC President Mario Aguila. “Right now [legislators] are trying to solve how much control the mayor and how much power superintendents will have. It won’t be the way the old school district was before mayoral control, but we do need some changes to a certain point.”

Just what those changes will be are anyone’s guess. At a CEC District 14 meeting July 9 at IS 71, Juan Morel Campos School, (215 Heyward Street), new and old education council members discussed the consequences of the state’s failure to renew mayoral control and whether CECs will continue to operate once the school year begins.

“All indications are that the majority of assemblymembers and senators agree that the mayor is doing a good enough job that he deserves to continue to have mayoral control,” said CEC 14 member Ramon Piguel. “I don’t anticipate the current school board surviving more than another month. I anticipate Senate passing mayoral control bill and CECs are part of the bill.”

Piguel, Aguila and other CEC members hope their boards will retain authority to oversee issues regarding enrollment in new schools and fight for more oversight regarding space considerations for charter schools seeking to move into their district.

“We know everything we asked we’re not going to get but we’re on the right step,” said Aguila. “I’m hoping empowerment of superintendent is given more weight. There are a number of sensitive issues between parents and principals, PTA organizations, and charter schools, that the superintendent should be allowed to intervene and resolve with both parties.”

Piguel believes the biggest challenge will be accommodating charter schools, which have been growing rapidly in Williamsburg over the past decade, and will be looking to expand into school facilities occupied by public schools.

“More private schools in our district, the less voice the CEC and superintendent will have in our district because we don’t oversee the charter schools,” said Piguel. “There’s going to come a point and time that there will be so many charter schools in the district the majority of parents in our district will be charter kids and charter districts. Therefore the district CECs and superintendent will be tantamount to symbolic figures.”

CEC member Elaine Manatu supports mayoral control and commends the mayor’s record on school graduation rates, but believes that CECs should still exist and fulfill an important role.

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