Parents, residents, and members of several southwest city neighborhoods are waiting to hear schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas’s latest recommendation to the school board regarding Schools 10 and 1. They held a rally last night at School 10, also known as Dr. Walter Cooper Academy, to protest Vargas’s proposal to close the school.
Vargas proposed combining Schools 10 and 1 at the School 1 location in the Cobbs Hill neighborhood when he unveiled his plan for the next phase of the multimillion-dollar schools modernization plan.
School 10 is a citywide school, but it has a high draw from the southwest. It is located, according to residents, in one of the school district’s densest student populations. Residents say that it makes no sense to bus the children from Congress Avenue all the way over to Cobbs Hill in the southeast section of the city, particularly when the district spends about $55 million on busing annually.
School 10 is also the only school in the southwest that offers Expeditionary Learning, a specialized teaching model that is extremely popular with city parents. Vargas said earlier this year that the program would be moved with the students from School 10 to School 1. But parents want the program to remain in their neighborhood.
And they’ve received some support from school board members. At a recent meeting, board President Malik Evans said School 10 is ideally located near the University of Rochester. Not only do many parents work there, but city students can also actually see college as a goal.
The southwest residents also received support from most members of City Council. In January, they sent a letter to Evans and Vargas expressing their concerns about closing elementary schools in the southwest and the “further erosion of neighborhood-based home schools.”
The letter, which was signed by all Council members except Elaine Spaull, also cited studies that showed School 1 near Cobbs Hill as more suitable for redevelopment than School 10. When school buildings are retired, they are returned to the city, and figuring out what to do with them becomes the city’s problem.