Students in the Rochester City School District go back to school

Updated: 09/03/2014 12:48 PM
Created: 09/03/2014 7:56 AM WHEC.com

Kids sitting in class, that's the best thing for the superintendent of Rochester schools to see on the first day and every day.

Dr. Bolgen Vagas said, “It's crucial. It's the number one driver for a student's success is attendance. We do know that children who are coming to school, 95-percent of the time they have the greatest chance of graduating from high school.”

Bolgan Vargas says it should start in kindergarten and that's why he asked volunteers to drive students to school today. These are children who registered just last week and there was no time to work them into a bus schedule.

Last week, we saw families lined up to register their children. The year before, we're told 1,000 new students signed up in the last two weeks of August. The superintendent doesn't want any child missing school just because transportation wasn't worked out. Dr. Vargas said, “There's no reason why we shouldn't have every child in school every day as long as this is a shared responsibility. The family, the school, and the community working together to get our children every day to school.”

Only two volunteer drivers ended being needed this morning and they were accompanied in their vehicles by District staff who had already been fingerprinted and had their backgrounds checked.

But that attendance issue isn't going away. Dr. Vargas says the reason East High School was almost shut down by the state is because attendance has only been 79-percent and research shows that typically translates to a 40-percent graduation rate.

In fact, in 2013, only four out of 10 seniors graduated from East. Because of those dismal numbers, the state wants the University of Rochester to take over managing East High next school year. The plan to do that is still being designed but East High Principal Anibal Soler says he’s confident the plan can work. “The bigger question is will the plan be funded and supported moving forward and I think that's going to be the larger conversation we need to have as a community -- this is what it's going to cost to support kids that come with these variety of needs and will the community support that?”

We asked the superintendent if there will be enough money to execute the University of Rochester's plan. Dr. Vargas told us the District will provide whatever is necessary to make it work. That plan is expected by the end of December to be ready for implementation next school year.

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