RCSD reconfiguration plan: Parents, teachers speak out; Board president cites ‘difficult choices’

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — In September, the Rochester City School District’s superintendent presented a reorganization plan to the Board of education. That plan includes the closure of some schools and some to reopen under a new name.

The board was looking to get input on the reconfiguration plan from the community and held a meeting at East High School Tuesday evening.

Dozens of parents told school board members they don’t want their children’s schools to close.

“I’m worried about the classroom size, like I said. She’s happy, she goes, and she is doing well, and I don’t really want that interrupted,” Patricia Brown said.

Another parent, who has children who attend School 10, was at Tuesday night’s meeting to voice her concerns. School 10 is on the district’s list to close at the end of the school year as part of the reconfiguration plan.

Marsha Augustin: What was your reaction when you learned your kids’ school was proposed to be closed?
Dana Jackson: I was upset! I live on the same street as the school, so it would be a disadvantage to me and my child to try to put her in a whole other school when I could walk her to school every day. I could get her there in two seconds instead of waiting on the bus.

Many parents and grandparents showed up tonight to air their concerns about plans to close nearly a dozen city schools.

“I want to stay on top so I can keep her on top.’ ‘Cause she doesn’t do well with change,” Brown said.
She has four grandchildren who attend School 12 and wants to know how this change will affect them. Her oldest grandchild is in the 7th grade.

“And she’s special ed. So, I’m just trying to figure out what’s going on because we just switched her from school 28 last year to 12 so this would be another move within two years for her and it’s a little disturbing,” Brown said.

A special education teacher at RISE Community School 106 was at tonight’s meeting with her colleague, who is an art teacher. RISE is another school slated to close at the end of the school year. Both teachers came carrying signs ready to speak to the school board hoping to change some minds and hearts.

“Disappointed! The building has only been open since 2018. We have a very strong family-community at our building, and we care deeply for our students. We would like the opportunity to continue to rise,” Cory Riemer said.

The school board president and board members listened to all of the pleas from parents and teachers and say they don’t take pleasure in this process, but the reality is enrollment is declining.

“This board must make some difficult choices, and while we may not agree we certainly will take into consideration what you spoke about this evening. And it’s tough,” president Cynthia Elliott said.

School board members say they wanted to make sure the community’s concerns and needs were heard and are taking notes and considering the ideas and solutions that were mentioned Tuesday night. The board plans another meeting for community input on Oct. 14.

The board will vote on the proposed plan on Oct. 19.