The Rochester City School District Board of Education will present a school receivership forum Saturday, Nov. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., in order to engage parents, staff, and community stakeholders in discussing school receivership legislation and regulation, organizers from the event stated.
RCSD School Board Commissioner Cynthia Elliott will host the event, which will be held at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9, 485 N. Clinton Ave.
“The state has ensured that parents, and other community stakeholders, have a significant role in the redesigning of the schools, so that’s why it’s important for parents to participate in this,” Elliott stated. “The parents have a pretty big role in this new design, through what’s called the community engagement team of the receivership schools. They have a significant role in helping to design how the schools should
be, and, because this is new, we want to make sure that parents, and other community stakeholders, understand what receivership means, and how they can play a role in it.”
In July, the State Education Department announced superintendents would be given one year to improve “persistently struggling” schools, and two years to improve schools that had been deemed as “struggling.”
Thirteen RCSD schools have been placed into receivership for the 2015-16 school year.
“The message that I hope to get across is about the opportunities that exist for stakeholders to be involved in the transformation of the district’s “persistently struggling” and “struggling” schools,” Elliott stated. “The forum will present information about receivership, and its impact on the Rochester City School District, in a variety of formats, including video, presentations, and a question and answer session with diverse stakeholders who are directly involved in the planning and implementation of receivership.”
Elliott said the Q&A panelists would include parents, teachers, district staff, adiministration, and school building leaders, as well as community and school board members.
She said Jennifer Pyle, the deputy director of the Conference of Big 5 School Districts, would also “provide an overview presentation of receivership, describing what receivership is, how receivership emerged, and its intent as a reform effort to improve schools identified as ‘persistently struggling’ and ‘struggling.'”
“Michele Alberti, the district’s executive director of School Innovation, will also provide a presentation on community engagement teams, and key stakeholders, charged with developing and presenting recommendations for schools’ improvement plans,” Elliott stated.
RCSD superintendent Bolgen Vargas, who recently announced plans to step down in December, had already begun making changes to receivership schools, such as moving the Boy’s Leadership Academy at School No. 9 to Charlotte High School, due to School No. 9 students’ poor rates of achievement.
However, Vargas stepped down following several months of conflict with the school board, and Elliott said the district still plans to consider the outcomes of some of the changes he’s made under the new receivership model.
“Those things, we really still have to see if those initiatives have some positive results,” she stated.
Ultimately, according to Elliott, without substantial improvement in struggling schools, the district would risk having the schools placed under the control of an outside receiver, which would be an entity appointed by the state.
It is important the community is aware of all the possiblities, she stated.
“New state laws, enacted earlier this year, require rapid and substantial improvement in these schools, to avoid being placed under the control of an external receiver,” Elliott said. “An external receiver would be appointed by the New York State Education Commissioner, and the local school district would no longer manage or operate the school. As members of the Rochester Board of Education, it is our responsibility to the community, and families who we serve, to inform and educate them on education changes within our district. School receivership is a major change in education, that has a direct impact on our schools, families, students, staff, and community. We want to ensure that our parents, families, and community have the information they need to make informed decisions, that can transform our schools, and community as a whole.”