Partnership with U of R and East H.S. in jeopardy; Neighbors voice concerns and advocate for extension

Concern Over Future of East High

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Dozens of people voiced their concerns Monday night at a community meeting on the future of the East High School partnership with the University of Rochester.

The meeting took place at Rochester Academy of Science Charter School. Neighbors and the assistant superintendent of East High say it’s not just about the partnership coming to an end next summer, it’s also about putting the needs of students first.

Rochester City School District Superintendent Dr. Carmine Peluso wants out of the partnership, while the University of Rochester and East H.S. leadership are eager for an extension.

East H.S. was at risk of closing so RCSD asked the U of R to partner with it to try and turn it around. East High has worked in tandem with the University of Rochester for nearly ten years. Now, that partnership is in jeopardy and set to expire in June of 2025.

During the partnership, graduation rates at East High have doubled and suspensions have fallen. Many neighbors in North Winton Village are keeping a close eye on this and believe there has been tremendous success with the student performance and graduation rates and would like to see that partnership continue.

“I think we need more of these types of programs to help turn around our city schools. This looks like a model that should be replicated in other schools,” David Kolczynski owner of a Care-a-lot in the neighborhood said.

Kolczynski believes it’s something more students can benefit instead of hurting from.

“It would significantly demotivate them, and really hurt the neighborhood significantly. If the families live here and the children that go there have been able to see the improvements and to see it taken away when it’s been successful, it would be very unfair to the children,” Kolczynski said.

School administrators say prior to the partnership, East H.S. was plagued with violence, poor student performance and a dropout rate that went from 41% to 12%.

The partnership is also known as an EPO, Educational Partnership Operation. It was started in 2014 and was renewed for another five years in 2019. Now that it is set to expire in 2025, there are calls to extend it, or have a transition plan in place.

“It’s renew the EPO, establish a transition plan if the EPO plan was going to go away that isn’t immediate, that allows us to consider what are these tangible and intangible things that must continue and it’s also putting the needs of children first,” said Caterina Leone-Mannino, assistant superintendent, strategic planning at East H.S.

Leone-Mannion says there will be a public hearing on Tuesday, January 30 at East H.S. and RCSD will make a decision on the partnership by the end of March.

New York State Department of Education says any changes to East H.S. and U of R partnership requires approval from the state education commissioner.