Wednesday, May 18, 2016

RTA says it doesn't support new Code of Conduct policy

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 11:46 AM

The Rochester school board is currently reviewing a proposal for a new Code of Conduct that would require a major shift in how teachers and students interact in city schools. The proposed policy is much less punitive that the current one.  

But after more than a year of planning and public meetings involving a wide range of supporters, the task force that drafted the new policy still faces a major hurdle to getting it approved: the opposition of teachers and principals. 

The Rochester Teachers Association approved a short, but succinctly-worded resolution yesterday saying that it does not support the new policy in its current form.

“The Rochester City School District proposes to adopt a new Code of Conduct without providing, or adequately budgeting for, the extensive services, resources, supports and alternative settings that our students need and that serious, positive change in schools’ climate would require.”

The resolution is also critical of the administration.

“The introduction of new procedures without adequate resources and supports will lead to even greater chaos," it says. 

A letter to the school board from the Association of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester, the union representing principals, supervisors, and administrators, shares similar concerns.

The new policy aims to sharply reduce the use of suspensions, reserving them for the most serious student infractions, and makes a seismic shift toward relationship-building through restorative justice practices.

The Rochester school district, like many large school districts, has a history of high suspension rates. And research shows that nationally, black males receive disproportionately harsher punishment.

And some of Rochester’s parents say that their children are sent home for what they see as minor issues.

But teachers and administrators view the situation differently.

“We’re not against a new Code of Conduct policy,” says Adam Urbanski, president of the RTA. “We are concerned when you go in that direction and you don’t have the class sizes you need, the social and emotional support systems in place, and don’t have the alternative settings for students.”

Urbanski says that teachers wholeheartedly support the spirit of the policy, but the resolution is about having the resources and budget to properly implement it, which are not in place. And he says that even though suspensions are down, classroom disruption and assaults on teachers are rising: a pattern that has been reported in other school districts.

The Los Angeles Unified School System is the second largest public school district in the country and the first in California to greatly limit the use of suspensions and embrace restorative justice tactics.

“The district moved to ban suspensions amid national concern that they imperil academic achievement and disproportionately affect minorities, particularly African Americans. But many teachers say their classrooms are reeling from unruly students who are escaping consequences for their actions,” the Los Angeles Times reported last year.

But supporters of the new policy in Rochester’s schools are not impressed with this line of criticism. Privately and in some public meetings, some parents and activists say that many RCSD teachers are simply being challenged to sharpen their cultural awareness and classroom management skills.

Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity selling campus

Posted By on Tue, May 17, 2016 at 5:49 PM

Divinity School President Marvin McMickle - PROVIDED PHOTO
  • PROVIDED PHOTO
  • Divinity School President Marvin McMickle
CRCDS is selling its historic site on South Goodman Street across from Highland Park.  In an open  letter from CRCDS's president, the Rev. Marvin McMickle, to alumni and friends, he says that the school has had to address some tough financial decisions. And the question of whether to sell the campus with its picturesque rolling hillside is not new. The school has an offer, he says, and he encouraged the board to take it, and the members agreed. 

"Over the years, we have received numerous offers to purchase the current campus, but none of these offers made sense, then or now," he writes. "None of them provided us with the financial resources necessary to establish ourselves in a new location where we could provide a 21st century model of theological education and thus, none of them served the interests of our students or the mission. That, however, has now changed. I am pleased to announce that we have received an offer that will, in fact, provide us with the resources necessary to establish CRCDS in a new location."

The buyer and the terms are not disclosed in the letter, and the school has until 2018 to find a suitable site for its new campus. 


 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week Ahead: Eco-thriller to show at First Unitarian

Posted By on Mon, May 16, 2016 at 10:04 AM

First Unitarian Church will host a showing of the film “Racing Extinction” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18. The film by Louie Psihoyos has been described as an eco-thriller, and uses extraordinary photography to examine humanity's role in the issues facing endangered species and a vulnerable planet. The film will be shown at the church, 220 Winton Road South.

Friday, May 13, 2016

GOP says Rozzi will be clerk candidate

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 11:34 AM

Cheryl Rozzi - PROVIDED PHOTO
  • PROVIDED PHOTO
  • Cheryl Rozzi
Greece Town Clerk Cheryl Rozzi, a Republican, will take on acting County Clerk Adam Bello, a Democrat, in November.

Monroe County Republican Committee Chair Bill Reilich — who is also Greece supervisor — announced Rozzi's candidacy this morning .  Rozzi was appointed Greece town clerk in 2014 and prior to that, served as clerk of the Monroe County Legislature. Reilich's press release says that she has 15 years' experience as a clerk, as well as 10 years of experience running a small business.

Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed Bello as county clerk in March.  To stay in the office past the end of the year, though, he has to run for election in November. Bello is former supervisor of Irondequoit.

Tags: , , , , ,

Warren's new budget lowers taxes, increases spending

Posted By on Fri, May 13, 2016 at 11:14 AM

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren - PHOTO BY MATT DETURCK
  • PHOTO BY MATT DETURCK
  • Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has proposed a $517 million budget for 2016-2017 that increases spending but lowers taxes for homeowners and businesses. 

Warren unveiled the spending plan this morning. Public hearings will be held early next month, followed by a City Council vote on June 14. 

An 8 percent increase in the city's overall property value means that the average homeowner would see a $15.85 decrease in his or her property tax bill, Warren said. The increased overall value of property in the city, coming after years of mostly  declining values, is a positive sign for the city, she said. 

The budget would add 20 police officers and two investigators, Warren said, and the popular single-stream recycling program would be expanded to cover the whole city. 

Despite the positive trends, Warren said that the city still faces significant economic challenges. The 2016-2017 budget, for example, had a $41.2 million gap that Warren closed by using reserve funds, a one-time infusion of state aid, and other methods. 

The budget increases spending by 2.3 percent and the tax levy by $2.5 million. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Superintendent search closed to the public

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 2:02 PM

Van White, president of the Rochester school board - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Van White, president of the Rochester school board
Selecting superintendents for Rochester’s schools has become something of a ritual over the last 10 years. And some form of public engagement is often part of the process. You may remember the search that led to the selection of former superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard:  public forums, writing your questions for the candidates down on index cards, and the community buzz about the process.

The Rochester school board spent a good part of yesterday interviewing superintendent candidates to replace Bolgen Vargas and will continue with interviews tomorrow, but don’t expect much in the way of public involvement.

This has been a closed search; the names of the candidates are not available to the public and the interviews are being conducted behind closed doors.

Board President Van White says that the school board decided to heed the advice of the search committee, which cautioned against opening up the process to the public. Revealing the names of candidates would almost certainly narrow the pool of applicants. Some of the most desirable and highly qualified candidates would be scared away because they won’t risk souring their relationship with their current employer, according to the search firm.

White says that even though he expects the board will face criticism over the lack of transparency, that the caliber of candidates that the board has interviewed so far seems to validate the firm’s advice.

“The interviews were excellent, I can’t recall ever interviewing a better group of candidates,” White says. “I was really impressed.”

The board has received more than two-dozen applicants and that pool has been cut in half. A second round of interviews within the next week or so will reduce the number of candidates to a few finalists, White says, and the board will make its selection probably by June 30.

He says that he's impressed by how knowledgeable the candidates are about the challenges facing the Rochester City School District, though he wouldn’t elaborate. But it’s not hard to guess, since the district’s low achievement record, among the lowest in country when it comes to graduating black boys, is well known.

And it wouldn’t take much more than a few online searches to see that the next superintendent will step into a job that doesn’t have a history of happy endings.

Tags: , , ,

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dinolfo asks state lawmakers to help dismantle LDC's

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 4:37 PM

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo says that dissolving two county-linked local development corporations will save taxpayers a few million dollars in debt and administrative costs. But she needs the State Legislature to pass a new law to make it happen.

The LDC's have one source of income and that's the county, which has multi-decade contracts with the LDC's to perform various services, such as providing government buildings with electricity and steam, upgrading copiers and computers, operating a parking garage, and so on. But in order for the LDC's to dissolve, the county needs to buy out those contracts, since the LDC's in turn borrowed against that promised income to do their business. 

But the county lacks the legal authority to borrow money for the purpose of paying off contracts.  Republican Senators Joe Robach and Rich Funke introduced legislation on Friday, at Dinolfo's request, that would address the issue. The legislation would give the county authority to buy out active contracts let by Upstate Telecommunications Corporation and Monroe Security and Safety Systems, the two LDC's that had starring roles in a  high-profile bid-rigging case that wrapped up on Friday (see this earlier post for the details). The county formed M3S to upgrade and operate the countywide emergency communications system, and it formed UTC to periodically upgrade county office technology.

In a press release, Dinolfo said that her administration has also been discussing the matter with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Democrat, about getting legislation in that house. 

Democratic County Legislator Justin Wilcox, who has sponsored legislation to strengthen oversight of county-linked LDC's, said that the legislation makes sense. He said that he is inclined to support it — the state legislation would require a formal request from the County Legislature — but that he wants some questions answered before he backs it. Among them: how much the county has paid the two LDC's and how much debt it would need to take on. 

"We need real transparency and not governing by press release," Wilcox said on Monday afternoon.

As she campaigned for county exec last year, Dinolfo promised that she would dissolve the county's LDC's and move their assets and operations back onto the county's books.  Part of that process involves assuming each entity's debts. Dinolfo's press release from Friday doesn't say how much debt the county will need to assume, though it promises that dissolving M3S and UTC would save taxpayers $4.3 million over an unspecified time essentially through reduced interest rates. 

Dinolfo also said that dissolving the Monroe Newpower LDC, which operates a power plant for Monroe Community College and Monroe Community Hospital, could save another $8.1 million over time. That LDC hasn't begun the dissolution process, but the Robach/Funke bill would authorize the county to buy out the LDC's contract.

Tags: , , , , , ,

[UPDATED] State ed. commissioner rebuffs Warren's request

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 11:12 AM

May 9, 5:05 p.m.: This post has been updated with a response from Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. Her response follows the main story. 

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren has received a response (see below) from the state education commissioner on her request to have a voice in struggling city schools. 
Mayor Lovely Warren - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Mayor Lovely Warren


Warren wrote Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and the Board of Regents on April 13, asking for a decision-making role in city schools that go into state receivership. She asked for a single independent receiver to oversee all eligible Rochester schools; the schools would be grouped together into an achievement district. Having multiple receivers with multiple turnaround plans would be a recipe for chaos, Warren said. 

Warren also wanted the authority to help craft the framework of the achievement district and to help pick the receiver who is hired to run the schools, and maybe to also help pick the superintendent of the new district.

In her April 18 response to Warren (see below), Elia said that no legal provision exists to create an achievement district that operates independent of a school district in New York. 

Elia said the purpose of her letter is only to identify what is possible and not possible in terms of Warren's request and state law. 

"I want to make clear that I am neither endorsing any of the particular ideas contained in this letter nor seeking to minimize the very significant challenges that would be involved in their implementation," Elia wrote to Warren. "The ultimate focus of responsibility for the school district's receivership vision remains vested in the elected school board." 

Some of Warren's ideas, however, could be accomplished under the receivership law, Elia said. No restriction exists, for example, on the number of schools that can be overseen by a single, independent receiver, Elia said, and in certain circumstances, the receiver can supersede decisions, policies, or regulations of the school board. 

Warren's representatives have not responded yet to Elia's response to Warren's letter. 

WARREN'S RESPONSE: 
“As I noted in my State of the City Address, I plan to work with the Commissioner and our legislative leaders to come up with a plan that will help us turn around our failing schools and put every child on a pathway to success,” Mayor Lovely Warren said. “It is my hope that leaders in the community will work together, on behalf of our children, who cannot afford to wait any longer for our educational systems to improve.”

Mayor Warren (1)




Week Ahead: Events for the week of Monday, May 9

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 10:11 AM

The old Rochester Psychiatric Center
  • The old Rochester Psychiatric Center
The proposed redevelopment of the former Rochester Psychiatric Center, 1201 Elmwood Avenue, is the topic of a public meeting today (Monday, May 9) from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Brickstone (Winter Garden), 1325 Elmwood Avenue. The presentation begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be followed by comments and questions.

The site includes about 18 acres in the City of Rochester and 11 acres in Brighton. The developer would demolish the Terrance Building (the psych center) to make room for 420 residential units, hotel, commercial, and recreational uses. Also planned are 22 duplex ranch units, 80 apartments, and a commercial building in the Brighton portion of the site.


Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren will release her 2016-2017 proposed budget plan on Friday, May 13. That will be followed by all day City Council hearings on each city department’s budget on June 2 and June 7.

A Council hearing on the Rochester City School District’s budget is at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, followed by a 5:30 p.m. public hearing on the school district’s budget. Both events are in City Council chambers at City Hall, 30 Church Street.

The City of Rochester is facing a $41.2 million budget gap for 2016-2017. Another thing to pay attention to is whether or not the proposed budget includes funding for neighborhood police precincts, which is something that the police union is pushing for. BY CHRISTINE CARRIE FIEN 


The City of Rochester is conducting a study to assess and evaluate the trail system in the Washington Grove part of Cobbs Hill Park. The study will help shape recommendations for future improvements to the trail system. The public can offer suggestions and comments online: at www.cityofrochester.gov/washingtongrove until Wednesday, May 11.


The Community Design Center will present “Where We Live: Building Stronger Neighborhoods,” on Tuesday, May 10. The featured speakers are Ken Doyno, president of Rothchild Doyno Collaborative, an architecture and urban design firm located in Pittsburgh; and John Torti, architect and partner with Torti Gallas of Washington, DC. The two have explored new approaches to neighborhood development and growing strong communities through intelligent design.

The event will be held at Gleason Works Auditorium, 1000 University Avenue, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets: $15. Information: www.cdcrochester.org. BY TIM LOUIS MACALUSO 


Brockport voters will decide whether they want to keep their village government on May 24. And at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, the village will hold an informational forum on the issue of dissolution.

The forum will be held at A.D. Oliver Middle School’s auditorium, 40 Allen Street, Brockport.
Wade Beltramo, general counsel for the New York Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials, will lead a presentation on the dissolution process, how services can be transferred from the village to the town, and the money and service impacts of dissolution.

Brockport voters defeated a 2010 dissolution measure by a vote of 959 to 662. Both that vote and the upcoming one were initiated through petition, and both times the efforts were led by a small group of high-profile landlords. The dissolution proponents say that getting rid of the village government will save taxpayers money. Village supporters say that’s a flawed argument, since residents will either lose services such as police and code enforcement, or they’ll still have to pay for them.


The Rochester People’s Climate Coalition is holding two events as part of 350.org’s Break Free From Fossil Fuels campaign.

The group is hosting a screening of the film “Disobedience” at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 2000 Highland Avenue. The film is about everyday people who are taking action against the fossil fuel industry.

The coalition is also organizing a bus to Albany for a May 14 rally against the proposed expansion of a Bakken oil processing facility at the Port of Albany, and against Bakken oil trains in general. The bus will leave the St. John Fisher College Park and Ride lot at 6 a.m., will leave Albany at 4 p.m., and will arrive back in Rochester at 8 p.m.

The organizers want travelers to register in advance at www.rochesterclimateaction.org/. They request a donation of $40 for a full fare seat and $20 for a student or reduced rate seat. They’re also taking donations through Crowdrise to cover the cost of chartering the bus and a driver. BY JEREMY MOULE 

Friday, May 6, 2016

Remaining LDC defendants sentenced

Posted By on Fri, May 6, 2016 at 2:51 PM

A while back, four guys were charged with working together to rig bids for two big Monroe County contracts. Today, three of the men received their comeuppance in court; one of the three is headed to prison.  

The men were sentenced by Acting Monroe County Court Justice Dennis Kehoe this morning. Daniel Lynch, who was the principal in Navitech, the management company that landed the county contracts, received a sentence of 2 1/3 years to 7 years in prison for theft and bid rigging. He also has to pay more than $600,000 in restitution, $400,000 of which is going to Monroe County. He agreed to the restitution in his plea agreement and has already paid much of it.

The state Attorney General's Office built the bid-rigging case, which centers on county-linked local development corporations. The defendants were all tied to a scheme to steer county contracts to Lynch's company, and in his plea agreement, Lynch admitted that he helped draft the contract proposals and that he profited off of information fed to him by other defendants. 

One of the contracts dealt with upgrading and maintaining the county's computer and office technology systems, the other with upgrading and operating the countywide emergency communications system.

The other defendants in the case were the county's former chief information officer, Nelson Rivera; the Monroe County Water Authority's former security director, Robert Wiesner (who is also former County Executive Maggie Brooks' husband); and Lynch's Navitech partner, accountant John Maggio.

Continue reading »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Rochester Perennial Society Plant Sale @ Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church

Hiking for Inclusion @ Cumming Nature Center

Led by students with developmental disabilities in the D.R.I.V.E. (diversity, responsibility, inclusion,...

View all of today's events »

  • Re: Reform proposals aimed at COMIDA, county

    • I have a lawn mowing business and I employ five people. COMIDA will give me…

    • on July 20, 2016
  • Re: STORIFY: Black Lives Matter rally, Dallas police shootings

    • Tried to watch Jimmy Kimmel Friday night but kept getting coverage from Alexander and East…

    • on July 11, 2016
  • Re: COMMENTARY: Too much firepower, not enough reason

    • "They are the weapon of choice for true cowards who cannot argue, debate or otherwise…

    • on July 1, 2016
  • More »
  • Browse Listings

    Submit an event

    This Week's Issue

    Cover Story:
    PHOTONICS: Building Rochester's future
    A one-year report card on Rochester's progress as the center of this new industry. read more ...

    © 2016 City Newspaper.

    Website powered by Foundation.