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School District 8 CEC incomplete

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Community Education Council 8 held its second “meet the candidates” event on Tuesday, November 27 in an attempt to plug four empty spots.

The council was supposed to be set months ago, when the Department of Education administered CEC elections around the city. Ten parents applied for CEC 8, responsible for School District 8 public elementary schools and middle schools since 2004, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg axed the school board system. But only six candidates were eligible to appear on the final ballot.

School District 8 includes Throggs Neck, Pelham Bay, Co-op City, Hunts Point, Longwood, Soundview, Castle Hill and Clason Point. Only School District 16 – Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn – had fewer eligible CEC candidates.

“I get frustrated because parents want and want but don’t care enough to fight for the children,” said veteran CEC 8 member Norma Cruz, who has a daughter in high school and a son in middle school.

A handful of CEC 8 members returned. Parent associations elect CEC members to two-year terms. CECs meet to discuss school issues and contribute to education policy: school zones, budgets, etcetera.

Some parents and elected officials have condemned CECs as weak compared to school boards. In response, the DOE held an online CEC straw vote in April, a month before its CEC elections. It urged parents to participate online and promised to pass the results on to parent associations.

In School District 8, only 456 parents participated, the DOE reported. More parents participated in School District 10 – Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Norwood and Bedford Park – than in any other. CEC 8 is useful, Cruz stated. It helped Banana Kelly High School in Longwood win a cafeteria and P.S. 107 in Clason Point win repairs. Parents who complain about Chancellor Joel Klein need to shoulder more responsibility, she said. Of the seven parents on CEC 8, only two are new.

“We see children having children,” Cruz said. “These parents don’t want to show up for meetings.”

There were three solid candidates for the four empty CEC 8 slots prior to October 27, CEC 8 administrative assistant Carolyn Cox-McDonald said. CEC 8 has yet to elect a president. In the past, it has held bi-monthly meetings but will meet once a month from now on, Cox-McDonald said. The next CEC 8 meeting is Wednesday, November 18 at 7:15 p.m. at 1230 Zerega Avenue.

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