The board responsible for overseeing Rochester’s $1.3 million school modernization program has just voted again to shoot down a labor agreement that would have required the project to use union labor and contained provisions that would have helped promote minority employment.
The vote, which took place on September 12, was an unusual court order of reconsideration.
The order stemmed from a lawsuit filed by the the Rochester building trades council and an allied nonprofit group, both of which claimed the Rochester Joint Schools Construction Board decision was invalid.
Members of the non-profit claimed that votes were invalid because their motives were never fully explained.
However, board members were more vocal about their decisions during the more recent vote.
“This was a travesty of a training program,” said board member Charles Benincasa. He noted that of 90 minorities trained as apprentices through the five years of Phase I construction, just five ended up working on the project. “It failed, it failed miserably and had an abysmal result.”
The vote fell the same way that it did earlier in August, in a four to three vote to scuttle the agreement.
Many are upset by the decision. Approximately 75% of employees say that feeling personally safe and open to opportunities is very important to them, and the rejection of this act may inhibit that.
However, one Rochester school recently received some very good news.
The state Education Department has awarded a $2.5 million grant that allows SUNY Geneseo to partner with Dr. Charles T. Lunford School No. 19.
The School Improvement Grant will allow SUNY Geneseo, through its Ella Cline Shear School of Education, to assist School 19 teachers and provide SUNY Geneseo students with tutoring opportunities, as well as other roles.
Anjoo Sikka, dean of SUNY Geneseo’s School of Education, said that the university is preparing to conduct a needs assessment and meet with school officials to determine the next steps to be taken.
“The timeline starts right away, but it is difficult to predict how much time each step will take,” Sikka said.
SUNY Geneseo professor Jane Morse has already started spending days at the school as a faculty liaison to School 19. Morse will serve as an advisor for the 2016-17 school year in order to assist the development and implementation of the EPO and related memorandum of understanding.
While School 19 will be receiving excellent assistance from SUNY Geneseo, the school modernization program decision is still turning heads.
The potential for financial savings is still unclear, but the board’s decision to reject the Labor Pact proposal once more may have just put a one-year delay on the construction at Monroe High School.