Tomorrow afternoon, the public will get to hear the results of more than a month’s brainstorming concerning the Rochester City School District. Shortly after school board President Van White took office, he formed four committees that were charged with coming up with ideas to improve city schools.
The four committees – improving student achievement, increasing parent engagement, reducing the concentration of poverty, and improving student and community safety – are comprised of a diverse sampling of community leaders, parents, and education activists.
White says he’s cautiously excited about the recommendations that have come out of the committees.
“This isn’t my plan,” he says. “This is the community’s plan.”
City students will be the first to hear the reports at 4:30 p.m. at the district’s central office, 131 West Broad Street. The meeting is open to the public, but only students will be able to ask committee members questions about their recommendations, such as how they came up with them, and why they support them.
One idea being floated to support teacher development is to have students instruct teachers on how to use social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Another idea involves elevating the role of parents by moving the office of Parent Engagement — which includes parent liaisons — under the school board’s supervision. Oversight of the office is currently the responsibility of the district's senior administration. White says the recommendation is intended to strengthen the role of parents and to make sure they are being asked to contribute their time and resources in meaningful and effective ways.
Some of the recommendations proposed by the committees will no doubt face challenges, mainly in funding and implementation. Though some of the recommendations wouldn't require additional revenue, others may require shifting money away from other programs important to Superintendent Bolgen Vargas.
White acknowledges that the biggest risk in asking for the community’s help is the chance that the input will be ignored. He says he was repeatedly asked during committee meetings if these recommendations would be treated differently from recommendations made in the past.
“We’ve been here before; why do this?” White says. “But if we can do some of these things, it will change how people view this district.”