Students at East Rochester and Rush-Henrietta return; See our coverage

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — East Rochester and Rush-Henrietta are two of the local school districts resuming classes on Tuesday. News10NBC TODAY was live as the districts prepared for the students’ arrival.

East Rochester CSD Superintendent Jim Haugh says students and faculty are excited for the start to the new school year, following a robust summer program that helped students to continue to learn.

He says the high heat, with temperatures expected to reach 90, is a concern but the school is prepared. The buildings have air conditioning and there are water bottle filling stations to keep students hydrated. The school nurse and the athletic director closely monitor high heat indexes. The school could decide to reduce the time students are outside for recess or sports if the heat is high enough.

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Barbara Mullen, the new superintendent of Rush-Henrietta CSD, says the district is excited to welcome the students. She says the district is just under 100% staffed and a career fair in August helped to fill vacancies. More than 80 people attended the fair that aimed to recruit teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, office staff, and more.

“There’s always gonna be vacancies but our team worked very hard to make sure the critical positions, that are essential to high quality teaching, learning, and support, are filled,” Mullen said.

Arkee Allen, the new principal at Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, greeted students and shook their hands as they walked into the school. Allen said he’s eager to start a new school year.

East Rochester CSD is fully staffed for the first day, according to Haugh. He said the target hiring season is the end of the school year, when people typically announce that they’re retiring or leaving. East Rochester is supporting future teachers through a prep program at St. John Fisher University and a future educators students club.

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In East Rochester and several other local districts, meals will be free for all students because of funding from the New York State budget. Haugh said the district applied and qualified for free breakfast and lunch for students. He said the meals will help families who are struggling financially and free breakfasts will help to get students to school on time.

“It helps us with our initiatives to try to get kids to school on time. Because they get that most important meal of the day, breakfast, before they start,” Haugh said.

News10NBC also spoke to a family and a food service employee in the Greece Central School District about the impact of free school meals, after pandemic-era federal waivers for meals expired.

The school districts of East Rochester, Greece, Gates-Chili, and Holley are eligible for free school meals through the Community Eligibility Provision. To be eligible for CEP, districts must have at least 40% of students in poverty. The Rochester City School District will have free meals through a separate federal program.

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Tom Stewart, the athletic director of Rush-Henrietta Senior High School, says athletic facilities improvement projects will break ground in the next couple of weeks. The project includes eight new tennis courts and permanent bleachers and a press box at the soccer field. Stewart says that, in another year or so, the pool will also be renovated.

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