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RCSD Superintendent Seeks to Reconfigure Grades, Buildings

Staff report

The Rochester City School District is considering reconfiguring its grades within school buildings, which among other changes would close some buildings and make families choose new schools.

The district has scheduled four meetings on the plan, which Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small discussed Nov. 9 at a meeting of the Board of Education:

Student Leadership Council (SLC): Nov. 17
Parent Leadership Advisory Council (PLAC): Nov. 17
Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC): Dec. 13
Bilingual Education Council (BEC): Dec. 14

Additionally, a public hearing will be held on December 15

Reconfiguration was one of the recommendations from Shelley Jallow, the state-appointed monitor for the RCSD. The district is dealing with declining enrollment yet must provide equitable academic and extracurricular programs.

The district held a virtual public hearing in April.

The district would go from a configuration of PreK – 6, PreK – 8, K – 6, K – 8, K – 12, 6 – 8, 7 – 8, 7 -12 and 9 – 12 to PreK – 5, 6 – 8, and 9 – 12.

At the Nov. 9 school board meeting, Myers-Small made the following recommendations that would start with the 2022-23 academic year:

Elementary schools

  • Virgil I. Grissom School No. 7 would close. Current K – 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. The current School No. 7 building, located at 31 Bryan Street, would become the new home for RISE Community School No. 106 and serve Pre-K-5th grade students. 
  • RISE Community School No. 106 would relocate to current School No. 7 campus, which is located in the Northwest Zone and would serve Pre-K – 5th grade students. Out of zone and current 5th and 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year.
  •  Adlai E. Stevenson School No. 29 would relocate to Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School No. 19 at 465 Seward Street. That school would become a PreK – 5 building. Out of zone and current 5th and 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. The GEM program at School No. 29 would also be relocated.
  • Dr. Charles T. Lunsford School No.19 students would merge with students from School No. 29. Out of zone and current 5th – 8th grade students would participate in the school of choice process for next school year. The District will ask NYSED for a School Accountability Review upon the merger.
  • Flower City School No. 54 would close. Current students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. 
  • Montessori Academy School No. 53 would be relocated to Flower City School No. 54 campus. That school would become a Pre-K – 5 building. Current 5th and 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. 
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne School No. 25 would relocate to Andrew J. Townson School No. 39 at 145 Midland Avenue. School becomes a PreK – 5 building. Out of zone students and current 5th and 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. The District will ask NYSED for a School Accountability Review upon the merger.
  • Andrew J. Townson School No. 39 would merge with students from Nathaneil Hawthorne School No. 25. Current students within the zone can attend school. Out of zone students and current 5th and 6th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. The District will ask NYSED for a School Accountability Review upon the merger.

Secondary schools

  • Leadership Academy for Young Men in Charlotte closes. Current 7th – 11th grade students would participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year. 
  • Northeast College High School relocates to Leadership Academy for Young Men in Charlotte with a social justice focus. Current 9th – 11th grade students at Northeast would have the option to move to the new campus in Charlotte or participate in the school of choice process to select a new school for next year.
  • Program at Rochester International Academy would relocate to Wilson Magnet High School at 501 Genesee St. New comer students in 6th – 8th grade would move to a middle school model.
  • Dr. Alice Holloway Young School of Excellence transitions to a 6 – 8 building from a 7 – 8 building.
  • Northwest Junior High School transitions to a 6 – 8 building and remains at the Douglass Campus. The intention is to have 6th grade students from schools like No. 19, No. 25, RISE Community School No. 106, and Montessori Academy School No. 53 to transition to schools like Dr. Alice Holloway Young School of Excellence and Northwest Junior High School which will each pick up 6th grade students from those schools that would become PreK – 5 buildings. 

According to the district, reconfiguration will be guided by:

  • Access to equitable academic and extracurricular programming. Students will continue to be exposed to high-quality instruction led by strong instructional leaders and they will receive the supports needed to continue their academic success/trajectory. This includes expanding AP, dual credit, Career and Technical Education (CTE) and enrichment opportunities, along with opportunities to afford all students access to specialized programs, continuums, athletics, etc.
  • Enrollment and choice. Enrollment has continued to see a decline in PK-12 enrollment over the past seven years. Current enrollment is 23,865. RCSD has experienced a reduction in enrollment of approximately 4,600 students since the 2015-16 school year.
  • Accountability status. The district has 12 schools in receivership. Additionally, multiple schools are designated as Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI) (14) and Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI) (6). Only 14 are in good standing.
  • Building capacity, use and condition. Current building capacity accommodates 34,240 students. Current enrollment is 23,865 with building utilization anywhere from five to 104%. Additionally, at least one District building is nearly 100 years old and wood-framed (RISE Community School No. 106)

The school board, which will have two new members after the recent election, is scheduled to vote in February on the plan. If it is approved, the district will work with families who need to choose a new elementary school.