RCSD superintendent says announcing his departure ‘wasn’t an easy decision’

RCSD Superintendent Leaving

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Dr. Carmine Peluso, the Rochester City School District superintendent, said it “wasn’t an easy decision” to leave the district for another role.

He and RCSD Board President Cynthia Elliott spoke at a news conference on Wednesday morning about the search for a new superintendent and about how Peluso’s departure will impact the district. Peluso will begin his new role on July 1 as the superintendent of the Churchville-Chili Central School District.

Peluso said it was a difficult decision because he has worked for RCSD for 14 years and his wife has been a teacher in the district for 28 years.

Outgoing superintendent speaks about decision to move to Churchville-Chili

Outgoing superintendent speaks about decision to move to Churchville-Chili

“I have some relationships in this district that previous superintendents haven’t had and that makes it difficult for the staff,” he said. “…I made a decision for me and what was best for myself and my family.”

Peluso said there was no exact moment he flipped the switch. “There’s a lot of commitment I’ve had into this district, right — you’ve heard me say my wife is a teacher in this district for 26 years as well, so it’s nothing I take lightly. it was just a hard decision after a lot of reflection,” he said.

He has spent 14 years as an RCS educator, the last year as superintendent. The community learned of his departure through a press release from Churchville-Chili announcing his hiring. That leaves the Rochester district with a task that’s all too familiar: searching for a new superintendent.

Elliot said the board will work to maintain a smooth transition as Peluso leaves. She said that Peluso has hired many great staff members. After Peluso’s last day on June 30, the board will appoint an interim superintendent as they work with a search firm to find a replacement.

“By working together, we can assure that the best interest to our students, staff, and community are upheld. The actions that we take today are an investment in tomorrow,” Elliot said.

Eriketa Cost: “Some parents may be wondering, you know, three superintendents in four years, the turnover — does the board take part responsibility for that?”

Cynthia Elliott, RCSD Board of Education president: “I dont think we take responsibility; I’ll say from this regard, we take responsibility in the sense that we hired the person, but I tend to want to look at the fact that, we moved this district even further, in spite of the changes of superintendents we continue to move this work — if you look at our graduation rates, they’re continuing to go up.”

Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski says he believed one, or possibly two, board members could have contributed to Peluso leaving.

“This must be a lesson for them, on how to keep a good person that they hire, in a position and support him, rather than impede his work. … Just plain disrespect, it was micromanagement, it was pettiness, it was inability to show respect.”

I reached out to board members for comment, but haven’t heard back from any. Peluso said board leadership has been supportive, but that at times it has been difficult to work with members who are mostly new. Elliott says they’ve all been undergoing counseling to improve how they work together and govern.

Peluso said the district still plenty of work to do, such as prepare for the reconfiguration plan to close 11 schools and five buildings. The district will also soon unveil its proposed 2024-25 budget.

“We have a great team here, a committed team of executive teachers, staff, central office, that are going to continue to do that work,” Peluso said.

Elliot said the district will work to maintain communication with families to address any challenges ahead.

All this comes as the Rochester Board of Education was set to make a decision Thursday about what will happen with the partnership with East High and the University of Rochester. That vote will now be delayed. Meanwhile, the University of Rochester is reaffirming its commitment to East.

In a statement released Wednesday, university officials say they’re extremely proud of how far East has come since the partnership started in 2015. They say the only acceptable option to continue the work and progress is to extend the partnership.