By Anna Gustafson
Queens parents have an additional week to cast their ballots in the city’s first entirely online vote for local school councils, the city Department of Education announced Monday.
The DOE extended the period during which parents citywide may vote by one week, from April 22 to April 29.
“We had a little bit of time to work with before the formal vote in May, and we wanted to make sure all the parents who wanted to had a chance to vote,” said DOE spokesman William Havemann. “We’ve been ramping up the outreach and trying to get out parents who might have heard about the elections.”
More than 3,000 Queens parents had voted as of Monday night in what education officials are calling a “straw vote” for the Community Education Councils, according to DOE data. A total of 12,000 parents have voted citywide.
Some 90 Queens candidates are vying for 72 available positions on the Community Education Councils, which replaced school boards after Mayor Michael Bloomberg took control of the city’s public schools in 2002. There were 77 Queens applicants in the 2007 election.
The CECs are charged with evaluating schools’ instructional programs, advising city Schools Chancellor Joel Klein and holding meetings at least once a month with the district superintendent and the public to discuss education issues.
Up to nine parents may be elected to sit on a council, two individuals are appointed by the borough president and one person is selected by the community superintendent.
This year the DOE changed the voting process for the CECs. Parents will only be able to cast their ballots online in the city’s first straw vote, in which parents enter their students unique school number in order to vote.
The results of this vote will be taken into consideration in the May election by the Parent Association and the Parentâˆ’Teacher Association leaders, whose votes state law mandates determine the new council members.
Some CEC leaders have blasted the online vote, and Rob Caloras, CEC president of District 26, has said the vote is discriminatory because some individuals may not have access to the Web.
District 26 covers 31 schools in Fresh Meadows, Bayside, Flushing, Queens Village, Floral Park, Little Neck, Bellerose, Glen Oaks and Douglaston. It is the highestâˆ’performing school district in the city.
Havemann said education officials have worked hard to be inclusive and have translated the voting information on the Web site into nine different languages.
Parents may vote at powertotheparents.org.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by eâˆ’mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 174.