One more minor clarification: the 19th Ward is NOT the largest neighborhood in the city. Maplewood and 14621 are larger (25 - 30,000 residents each). The accomplishments of the 19th Ward Community Association are not just recognized locally, but nationally as they are a model for a diverse neighborhood that has defied the blockbusting of the 60s and the challenges of more recent years. Kudos to the 19th WCA for 50 years!!!
I remember poring over RCSD financials a few years ago, along with Paul Haney and others as part of the "Blue Ribbon Panel". What we found, and is rarely discussed, is that the per capita dollar figure is the average which includes the special education costs which are significantly higher than the suburban districts. In fact, it is not clear to me that the suburban budgets adequately include costs for their students who are sent to BOCES programs (not typically a city option). The city is required to provide services for all students at all schools, which means that some neighborhood schools need to set up special classrooms for a small number of students - costs that the neighboring suburban school districts may not have. Comparing the per student cost, without complete context, does a disservice to all.
That said, I don't believe that we can continue to increase school spending while enrollment is declining. Nor should we be eliminating the number of neighborhood schools in some parts of the city (three in the NE section, 1 or NONE in other areas) without looking at the impact on both the students and the community. This is far more complicated than most articles can capture.
Look at the required programs, resources available (BOCES), and enrollment. Higher enrollment of special education students (a topic to be explored on its own) dramatically increases per student costs - take out those costs, and compare the per average student costs and the difference becomes far less dramatic.
Keep in mind that large parts of this city are virtual "food deserts" with only corner stores for food (grocery chains are far away, or not present at all). So, we have (low income) dense neighborhoods LACKING stores, and we will now have an area (higher income) that will be served by four grocery stores?
I'm not saying that they shouldn't have a store there, but we also need them in other areas of the city!
The school board needs to also look at the neighborhoods in the north east that will be losing three (THREE!) schools: #6, #22, and #36 are all recommended for closing, leaving a major hole in the community. No. 6 is being used for swing space, but will ultimately close. School 22 will relocate blocks east to Franklin (permanently) leaving a vacant building on Zimbrich Street, and School 36, the oldest school building in the district is recommended for closing in the last report that I saw. And, while newly updated or newly built schools may be helpful to students and teachers, the administration and management of the building and the engagement of all staff and parents are better determinants of a successful school than the architecture or age of the building.
Please keep in mind that this is the same network that brings us such stellar entertainment as "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and "Parking Wars".
Perhaps they need to consider changing their name from "Arts & Entertainment" to something more descriptive of their programming....
I had the pleasure and honor of working with City Councilman Tim Mains, and later with Principal Mains (at School 50). While we probably didn't agree on every issue, I found him to be one of the most honorable and hard-working public servants in our community. Jamestown's gain is most certainly our loss.
Tim scrutinized every budget line - a tradition now followed by Carolee Conklin. He listened to speakers, engaged with the community, and supported public policy decisions that benefited city residents. And he did all of his work with compassion, understanding and a dry sense of humor.
I wish him well, but he will be missed.
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