If the East Rockaway Board of Education learned anything from Tuesday’s Elementary School Reorganization Plan Reaction Meeting at Rhame Avenue Elementary, it was that residents aren’t exactly on board with the proposal.
The first of three such meetings acted as another step on the journey towards an ultimate decision on the proposed “Princeton Plan.” Community members had a chance to voice opinions and ask questions of both the board and consultant, Michael J. Dutkowski.
The would organize students in the district’s two elementary schools by grade level, not geographic location.
A heavy majority of residents who spoke at the meeting remained unconvinced that the proposal is a worthwhile one. Many questioned whether the plan is designed to provide a better education to students or to solve an overcrowding problem.
“The sense that I got as I initially got involved with (this project) was that it was not tied to overcrowding,” Dutkowski said.
Transportation was also on the minds of many. Because East Rockaway is a non-bussing district, parents expressed concerned about the logistics and safety of having to move multiple children to different schools in a relatively short amount of time.
Although it will require some bargaining with teachers, a staggered start time schedule will be looked into if the plan is enacted, according to the board.
A sense that a decision has already been made permeated throughout the public comments, one the board repeatedly denied.
“With everything that’s being said (by the board), it’s not in any kind of future tense,” one resident said. “It’s in a present tense. To me, it seems like we’re spinning our wheels here.”
The board claims that gauging community reaction is an important part of the decision process. So far, the reaction of many on record is not favorable to the cause.
“I’ve been against it from the beginning. It has nothing to do with the findings,” resident John Profitlich told Patch. “[The board] hasn’t proved anything from a quality of education standpoint. There’s no benefit to education. That was the number one goal and tonight they didn’t address it and they didn’t prove it in the (study).”
Although no official time table has been set, the board hopes to make a decision whether or not to go through with the plan by the March board meeting. However, the results of a current traffic study or the decision to acquire more public input may delay that final determination, board President Neil Schloth told Patch following the meeting.
Another community reaction meeting will be held Wednesday night at Centre Avenue Elementary School and a final one on Feb. 6 at Both are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.