Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor Dennis Walcott will have to rise to many challenges this fall, and he is prepared to do so.
Walcott attended District 29’s Education Town Hall meeting Thursday, September 20, both the district’s and the chancellor’s first town hall meeting of the school year. Walcott took the opportunity to convey his mission and took several questions from concerned parents.
“How do we focus our energy on our students,” asked Walcott, questioning an attentive crowd in the I.S. 238 Susan B. Anthony Academy auditorium.
For the upcoming year, in order to ensure good performance district-wide, Walcott noted a need for heavy parent involvement in their children’s education. New city standards are more demanding than previous years, and in turn, Walcott says that parents should demand more of themselves.
“Tests will be more difficult than ever before,” he said. “All of us should make sure we are collectively working together for our students.”
Walcott, who attended school in District 29 and whose grandson currently does as well, said he has a “special interest” in the area, and wants to make sure students and also teachers are prepared to meet the new standards.
The chancellor also tended to parents and their concerns, which ranged from overcrowding solutions to a need for physical fitness programs.
Bellerose’s P.S./I.S. 208 in particular, according to parents, has a severe overcrowding problem, averaging 38 students per class.
Walcott said that since the school year is still very new, registers determining class sizes will not be complete until later in the season. Once those numbers are received, if there is still a problem, it will be addressed by the DOE.
As a solution to overcrowding, Walcott proposed the creation of new schools. He advocated having the options of charter schools, single sex schools and public schools, believing that students will respond better to a variety of choices.
“Our goal is to create high quality schools. We have a responsibility to serve the students,” said the chancellor.