Community discussions note school district’s challenges

In response to the November release of a state education official’s report for the Rochester City School District, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren hosted a series of public meetings to discuss the challenges the district is facing.

More than 3,000 parents, students, and community and neighborhood leaders took part in the meetings, which were offered throughout December, to identify areas of concern and possible growth for the school district.

On Jan. 23, the city released a report ( containing findings from the meetings. According to the report, there was overwhelming support for the districtwide adoption of the Community Schools Model that is being used in some of the district’s schools. Under this model, schools partner with community groups to bring such services and resources as health clinics or child care to school campuses.

“It’s clear that our residents want community schools that provide wrap-around services, including mental-health services and expanded child-care options for families,” Warren said in a Jan. 23 statement.

According to the report, meeting participants highlighted such concerns as lack of accountability for leadership roles, racism, negative school climate and a high turnover in leadership positions. These concerns mirrored those contained in a report released Nov. 14 by Jaime Aquino, who was appointed by the state education department as a “distinguished educator” consultant to the district.

Meeting participants also praised the district for the resiliency of its students and teachers, along with the high number of prekindergarten enrollments.

Aquino’s report likewise highlighted the success of the district’s prekindergarten model. During a community meeting held at East High School on Jan. 24, Aquino said he hopes this model can be replicated at the K-12 level.

“The pre-K programs are a beacon of what all grades can look like,” he said.

After giving their feedback, meeting participants were asked to brainstorm solutions to their concerns. According to the city’s report, community members said they felt the district could be improved by having parents become more involved, transitioning to the Community School Model, providing students with mentors and holding leaders accountable for underperforming students.

The report also noted that there is support for a mayoral partnership with the district. In response to the suggested solutions, Warren stated the city would work on creating a more formal partnership with the district to further ensure open communication and help from the city.

Warren also recognized the importance of implementing the recommendations in Aqunio’s report.

“I remain committed to working with the school board, the Distinguished Educator and the Education Commissioner to ensure that every child can fulfill their potential,” Warren said in a Jan. 23 statement.

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