Updated August 21, 2013 at 9:50 a.m.
Superintendent Vargas understood the ministers' request for a meeting concerned an employee matter, and he cannot legally discuss such issues, according to Chip Partner, the district's spokesperson.
With regards to concerns about the school day scheduling changes, Partner says that parents in some schools were notified well in advance of the scheduling changes. But the state just approved the plans for the schedule changes in another group of schools only days ago. The notification of those changes was included in the district's calendar it mails to parents. The calendar is for the 2013-2014 school year and provides parents with information about events, activities, and important contact information.
The Baptist Ministers Alliance and Rochester Ministers At Large say they are angry over the city school district's plans to extend the school day at some schools. They say that the plans weren't properly explained to parents.“[The district has] a knack for making decisions on behalf of our children that the parents don’t even know anything about,” says the Rev. Willie Harvey, a spokesperson for the ministers.
A 2007 federal court order required New York to provide inmates with "serious" mental illness more treatment while in solitary. And a follow-up law enacted in 2011 all but bans such inmates from being put there altogether.
But something odd has happened: Since protections were first added, the number of inmates diagnosed with severe mental illness has dropped. The number of inmates diagnosed with "serious" mental illness is down 33 percent since 2007, compared to a 13 percent decrease in the state's prison population.
A larger portion of inmates flagged for mental issues are now being given more modest diagnoses, such as adjustment disorders or minor mood disorders.
First it was mayoral control; now we may be looking at Albany control of some urban school districts. The very idea is almost laughable. We’re talking about Albany, New York, frequently described as the most dysfunctional state government in the country.
But New York Education Commissioner John King is pushing for a bill that would allow the Board of Regents to take over school districts with histories of low academic performance or financial problems.
Emily Richmond, a blogger for the National Education Writers Association, makes a couple of interesting observations in a recent article about state takeovers of schools. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is pushing to take over Camden’s school district. And the Jersey City, Paterson, and Newark districts are already under the state’s control. The latter has been under state control since 1995, and it continues to struggle, writes Richmond.
The Jersey districts are predominantly high poverty and high minority districts, which could describe school districts in many urban areas, including Rochester. Advocates for state control use many of the same reasons as advocates for mayoral control: low test scores, low graduation rates, and union resistance to change.
And the problems with state control have a familiar ring, too. It’s a dramatic change that doesn’t produce immediate results, and may not improve student achievement at all. State control often injects political mayhem into districts, particularly when it comes to choosing new leadership.
Out go elected boards and in come appointees, often cronies and loyalists.
Wiping the slate clean and creating an entirely new school system seems to have a little more promise, writes Richmond. That’s what happened in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina.
Parents and voters should think about letting legislators give King and the Board of Regents any more power. New York isn’t flourishing with solutions from Albany.
The developer of the proposed Westport Crossing project in Pittsford — better known as 75 Monroe Avenue — is now suing the Village of Pittsford to stop it from applying a section of its local laws. Although the suit deals only with this development, it could ultimately have a broader effect, preventing village residents from appealing Planning Board decisions through the village Board of Trustees.
The village has a law on the books that lets any "applicant or interested person" appeal a Planning Board decision via the village board. And that's just what the Friends of Pittsford Village and two village residents, Justin Vlietstra and Michael Reynolds, did on July 17, challenging the Planning Board's July 10 preliminary approval of the project's site plan.
Vlietstra, Reynolds, and the Friends group said that the site plan failed to meet criteria set by the village board in a regulating plan. That plan, which the village board approved in December, basically sketches out the allowed number and size of the buildings as well as the approved footprint of the project.
Earlier this week, the project's developer, Pittsford Canalside Properties LLC — an affiliate of Mark IV Enterprises — filed suit against the village challenging the law that permits the appeal by Vlietstra, Reynolds, and the Friends.