Tag Archives: Rochester City School District

Mayoral Control Lost Momentum

The Democrat and Chronicle reported today Assemblyman David Gantt would reintroduce his legislation giving Rochester’s mayor control of the school district.

This is not a surprise, as it has already passed the assembly. The bill has powerful allies in Gantt, Assemblyman Joe Morelle, Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy and the business community. But the state senate is a lot trickier, as senators Joe Robach and Jim Alesi have expressed strong reservations.

Meanwhile, a lot has changed in the two years since then-Mayor Duffy campaigned for control of schools.

  • We have a new mayor who may not want the job as badly as his predecessor. Tom Richards  never talks about mayoral control unless prompted and doesn’t do so with any depth. While Richards has expressed support for mayoral control, I find it hard to believe Albany would hand over control of a $700-million-a-year, 32,000-student district to a man who lacks any outward passion for taking the reigns. There’s still time for Richards to show he wants control of the district. So far, he hasn’t laid out any vision.
  • Opposition to mayoral control has grown among area residents. The 2011 Voice of the Voter poll shows 50 percent of respondents oppose and 38 percent support mayoral control. In the 2010 poll, only 30 percent opposed mayoral control.
  • New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s record on education has been knocked in polls and gains in test scores under his leadership were nearly wiped out.
  • The Rochester City School District is no longer run by mayoral-control-friendly Jean-Claude Brizard.  The district is in a state of relative calm compared to the turmoil of the last few years. Is it time to rock the apple cart as the school board searches for a new leader – one who may already be in the position? Maybe it’s the perfect time, if you want to install the mayor as chief.

Wealthy Town = Wealthy Schools

An excellent report in the Democrat and Chronicle today by Meaghan McDermott exposes the inequality between wealthy, suburban and poor, rural school districts. Wealthy kids get to take endless Advanced Placement and foreign language classes. A poor valedictorian can’t even get into SUNY Geneseo because of a thin transcript.

Rural school districts were hit much harder than their richer counterparts when the state cut school funding, according to a report from the Alliance for Quality Education. The D&C reports relatively poor Brockport lost $2,000 of funding per student while wealthier Pittsford lost $700.

Add in the property tax cap, and the poor districts are squeezed like never before.

Excerpt from article:

“I’m not arguing that we have to be able to offer all that wealthier districts can,” said Mike Ford, superintendent of the Phelps Clifton-Springs Central School District in Ontario County. “But the state can’t allow districts like mine to face the prospect next year of not having kindergarten, or not having electives or having our juniors and seniors going to school a half-day and only getting 22 credits for graduation and that’s all.”

The report did not focus on the Rochester City School District, because it is not funded through property taxes. But poor, urban districts face the same lack of resources. The RCSD doesn’t have librarians in all elementary schools. Some children are not even taking the bare minimum of physical education, art and music.

Should the quality of children’s public education be dependent on where they live?