Reports released on proposed mayoral control of schools

ROCHESTER — Mayor Robert J. Duffy released two installments in a series of reports last month with more details about his plan for mayoral control of Rochester city schools.

Duffy first publicly announced his intention to seek governance of the school district during his inauguration speech at the start of the year. The mayor’s office is awaiting state legislation to move forward with his proposal.

The new report includes information about Rochester’s academic performance in comparison to New York City, which adopted mayoral control in 2002. New York City’s graduation rate was 63 percent in 2009 compared to 46 percent in Rochester.

Duffy’s plan includes a "family navigator" in every school to provide guidance on services available from the school, city, county, state and other agencies. It also calls for parents to make up half the membership on school-based planning teams.

The plan also calls for consolidation of school and city services such as maintenance, finance and security. It also will hold Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard accountable for his five-year strategic plan.

In his previous report, Duffy called for parental choice of schools for elementary students, increased police presence and guaranteed transportation for all elementary-age children. His proposal would replace the current board with a panel for education, which would be appointed by the mayor and city council.

A recent survey by Metrix Matrix and the Center for Governmental Research found that 62 percent of 435 residents support the mayor’s proposal, according to information at www.cgr.org. The survey was conducted by mail and 26 percent responded to the poll. Only 5 percent of the respondents were Hispanics, according to a press release, which said was too small of a statistic to use in the poll results.

In a March 30 statement Malik Evans, the school district’s board president, said the survey results were flawed. African-American and Hispanic students are the majority in the district and the majority of the poll respondents were residents who did not have children younger than 18 living with them, he said.

Evans also cited a poll by BRX Global Research Services a month earlier that showed a majority of residents opposed mayoral control. For the community to accept the results of any poll, Evans said a third party outside Rochester should conduct a survey.

"Stripping citizens of Rochester of their voting rights must be decided by more than 274 people polled by mail," he stated.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Ibero-American Action League will host a forum to inform Hispanic parents about the mayor’s proposal on April 19 at 6 p.m. at the Puerto Rican Youth Development and Resource Center at 30 Hart. St., Rochester.

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