By Kathianne Boniello
School Board 26 in Bayside is opening its doors next week, and board members are hoping a lot of parents walk on through.
After several weeks of hurried planning, the northeast Queens school district was set to hold its first major parents forum on Thursday, March 14. The theme of the event, which will feature a variety of parent workshops in a number of different languages, is “helping your child succeed.”
School District 26 Superintendent Claire McIntee said the forum was conceived as a way to reach out to those with children in the district.
“We feel very strongly that we need more parents involved in the district,” she told a news conference last week. “Without the parent involvement we already have, we would not have the success we have now.”
School District 26 has been the highest-performing district in the city for years. It includes schools in Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck, Oakland Gardens, Glen Oaks, Auburndale, Hollis Hills, and parts of Flushing, Fresh Meadows, Floral Park and Bellerose.
A number of topics were expected to be covered at next week’s event, including the state’s new academic standards, testing, parenting skills, the high school entrance process, safety in school, special education, and bilingual education, said Deputy Superintendent Anita Saunders.
While the parent’s forum is open to everyone with students in the district, School Board 26, in conjunction with district staff, has made a strong effort to attract immigrant parents.
The school board has been hoping to provide translators at the forum who are fluent in the following languages: Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, and Malayalam, an Indian dialect.
Sharon Maurer, School Board 26 president, said “we realize we need to address the needs of that population that is a part of our district and we want them to understand what’s going on in our schools.”
Spearheaded by school board members Incha Kim, Yen Shia Chou and Ruth Lee, next week’s effort to involve immigrant parents was a recognition of the district’s diversity.
Chou said “the major mission of this forum is to reach out and to educate parents and teach them how to be 21st century parents.”
Maurer, who emphasized that all those working to develop the forum have been volunteering since budget cuts hit the district in the past few months, said the March 14 event is “just the beginning.”
“We’re already planning one for September 2002,” she said.
Saunders said the district has scheduled three sessions between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. March 14, with each workshop repeating three times to give parents a chance to attend all of them.
The parents forum will be held at MS 74 at 61-15 Oceania St. in Bayside. School Board 26 is seeking volunteers to serve as translators. For more information call the board at 631-6981.
Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.