Rochester City School Board: "We need more time to finalize East High School's education plan."

Updated: 07/30/2014 11:14 PM
Created: 07/29/2014 5:00 AM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts

On Thursday, the Rochester City School District was supposed to be sending in its plans for the future of East High School. Board members met with parents, students and faculty Wednesday to discuss and finalize that plan for next year before the University of Rochester begins its quest to turn around the failing school. 

After hours of debate, the Rochester City School Board says it needs more time. That means this year’s plan for East High School won’t be finalized until next month.

Cynthia Elliott, Rochester Board of Education Vice President, said, “The plan that was going to be implemented, I'm not sure that they're going to be able to implement that with fidelity.
I just don't have the confidence in it.”

It was a plan designed to turn things around at East High School, but the Rochester City School Board says it didn't work last year and it won't work this year.

Van White, Rochester Board of Education President, said, “Stuff like a newsletter, which is a great idea, stuff like data-warehousing, this thing is flushed with ideas. But the question I have to ask and I don't think we should look into the rear-view mirror for too long, but why wasn't this stuff done before?”

Among the changes being proposed are ways to improve parent involvement at East High. Something the principal hopes will help students succeed. 

Anibal Soler, East High School Principal, said, “Bringing back a PTA, a parent teacher organization, back into the campus, which is something we haven't had for probably 20 plus years on the campus. So we're trying to re-engage that.”

Karen Fox has a 15-year-old son attending East High School. She says her main concern is bad communication with school staff, especially with the principal. She hopes that will change this year. 

Fox said, “I tried for three years to sit down at that man's desk. He's always too busy. I've had more opportunities to speak with him here in this room than I have at that school at his desk. I let him have an ear full tonight.”

Principal Soler says it won't be easy, but he's confident East High School will come around. 

Soler said, “We have kids that come with a variety of concerns. Some of them are overage and under credited. Some of them come from very, very broken homes. So trying to get those kids to meet state standards, while also trying to move the agenda, is the ultimate challenge.”

The deadline to submit this year's plan for East High School is Thursday. Since the school board decided to table the plan, a plan likely won't be finalized for a few more days, maybe even weeks. The board says it needs that time to make additional changes. Members are also planning to consult with the Rochester City School District Superintendent Bolgen Vargas before making a final decision.

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