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Officials react to Cuomo's call for RCSD monitor

Charles Molineaux
Created: January 22, 2020 07:33 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren celebrated a proposal by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to designate a special, and unusually powerful, “monitor” to implement reforms in the Rochester Central School District.

"Right now, we have a chance to set this community and our educational system on the right course,” she said on Wednesday. 

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After years of calling for more say for the city in Rochester's schools, Warren said Wednesday she hoped Cuomo's budget proposal provides more of that kind of control.

As the RCSD struggled with a $25 million projected budget shortfall for the current school year, and chronic problems with student achievement the governor’s budget proposal unveiled Tuesday called for legislation to establish that, "The [state education] commissioner and the [Rochester] mayor shall jointly appoint one monitor to provide oversight, guidance and technical assistance."

"I am going to support the state coming in and doing what we asked them to do, which is to provide the academic and the physical support that's needed here in Rochester,” Warren said. “Because our school board has failed to do their due diligence."

In the proposal, the monitor would help develop financial and academic improvement plans for the 2021 year and four successive years.

But unlike distinguished educator Jaime Aquino, who only made recommendations when he delivered his report to the board and the state in November 2018, if the monitor and the school board disagree on what should be done, the monitor could then go to the state education commissioner on academic matters, or to the commissioner and the mayor on financial questions, and they together could overrule the board. 

Rochester School Board President Van White said some criticism of the board was unfair and ignored real improvement in the RCSD.   

"Before any monitor legislation passes, we have already done some stuff that I think moves us in the right direction,” he said.

White insisted the mayor was misrepresenting progress the school district has made, including dramatic improvements in graduation rates.  

He also pointed out that legislation for more state control of Rochester schools had gone nowhere in Albany for many years. 

Warren said the exact interaction between the city and this new monitor was a long way from being worked out.

A representative for the Rochester School System said the district had gotten no official notification of any monitor plan and pointed out that no legislation for a monitor had yet been approved and that a lot could happen before April when a final budget was expected to be approved.


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