Matt McDermott 
Member since Feb 28, 2014


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Re: “Reilich goes to war with Irondequoit

I get that sometimes politics can be a contact sport with each side trying to gain whatever advantage they can. That said, it's hard enough owning a small business without politicians spreading rumors about your financial viability. Stuff like that has real consequences if your customers stay away or lenders start getting cold feet. The funny thing is that the Republican County Chair used to be a small business owner. I guess his years in politics have made his memories of what that's like a little fuzzy.

25 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 03/22/2016 at 6:06 PM

Re: “RCSD exploring military option

I tend to think of this in the context of other specialty school programs - School of the Arts for kids who have an interest or aptitude in performing arts, STEM focused programs with robotics or even the Aviation High School operated by NYC's Public School System. Not purely vocational, these programs allow schools to engage students in ways that more generalized programs may not.

A public military school approach that emphasizes teamwork, discipline, physical fitness and academic achievement could be a great option for some (but clearly not all) families. I don't see it as a pipeline to the military any more than SOTA is a pipeline to Broadway - some go that route but most simply get a good education along the way to whatever career they pursue.

At the same time, there are valid concerns about the high number of expulsions at Buffalo's Maritime Academy Charter School - they have high graduation and achievement rates but also high attrition. If you took any of our district schools and lopped off the lower 25% of students who don't show, don't achieve, or cause trouble of one sort or another, you could have great numbers there too. The problem is that we're charged with educating all-comers, not just the above average ones.

We should, by all means see if this concept has legs but it should be thought of as one tool in the toolbox and it has to be done in a way that doesn't hurt the rest of our schools in the process. If it helps retain high potential students that otherwise might leave the district for greener pastures, maybe that's a win too.

7 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 02/04/2016 at 5:18 PM

Re: “Looking for positives in city schools’ news

If concentration of poverty is what we're trying to solve for, clearly efforts by the Anti-Poverty Taskforce to remove barriers are welcome and needed. The other half of this equation is retaining middle class families who make other plans when their children get to be school age.

My wife and I are middle class parents who chose to stay in the city but frankly, I've lost track of the number of neighbors who have left for the suburbs for no other reason besides schools. As much as we've had a great experience in city schools with our three kids, it's also not realistic to blame parents for wanting better options and opportunities for their children.

Graduation results that are stuck in neutral, a complicated school choice process and instability at the top of the district does nothing to inspire confidence in the families we need to move the needle in the right direction. Among other things, we need a series of changes that make it easier for parents to picture staying here as a reasonable choice.

2 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 01/27/2016 at 4:12 PM

Re: “Calling for Cala

A prime responsibility of any board is the hiring and ongoing evaluation of the leadership of an organization. For a superintendent, especially of a mid-size urban district like ours, there are a relatively small pool of potential candidates who might be qualified.

If I'm understanding the petition correctly, it is advocating skipping a search and hiring Cala directly. Given his experience in Fairport and interim role at RCSD, I believe Bill Cala would be a reasonable candidate to consider, but skipping a search in a rush to hire someone seems to be pennywise and pound-foolish.

We all know this is a high stakes hire and the school board needs to get it right. If Cala turns out to be the best candidate, great, but lets not sell ourselves short.

Matthew McDermott

11 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Matt McDermott on 12/16/2015 at 12:00 PM

Re: “Contests to kick-start downtown retail

I think both of these contests represent an interesting approach to surfacing good ideas for downtown retail. The fact that building owners and other partners are willing to donate in-kind services help increase the chances for a viable business long-term. Often, in traditional economic development, retail gets the brush-off. I understand the reasoning but it is nice to see something like this that is specifically built for retail. Opening a new tech business grabs the headlines but I've often thought about the impact that a retail company like Wegmans has on our local economy and wonder if there's something like it in our midst already or perhaps gets created through a competition like this. Matt McDermott, Vittorio Menswear & Tuxedo

5 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 08/27/2015 at 7:48 PM

Re: “Train station work under way

To Clint's point, I don't think anyone would argue that there aren't roads or bridges that need repair in our community. That said, we seem to spend quite a lot on maintaining and expanding that infrastructure (e.g. $100m for new 390 exits near U of R) and relatively little on things like rail. Replacing the fairly depressing 30 year old "temporary" terminal with something more functional and appealing will likely increase ridership and make it a more viable option for a wider section of our community. While a lot of us have cars, there are plenty of folks who don't or for those who do, would choose to use other modes of transport if they were easy and appealing. I am glad to see they've broken ground on this project.

11 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 10/29/2014 at 1:40 PM

Re: “Vargas looking for partner for East High School

As a parent of children attending city schools, I'm all for innovative ideas to improve student achievement and turn around some pretty bleak statistics in some of our buildings. I also have a great deal of respect for our many high quality colleges and universities in the region. When I read about these proposals though, I feel like I'm missing something. Rankings of colleges and universities tend to equate being more selective with better -- they're more 'successful' by screening out lower performing students and educating the best and the brightest. Nothing in that operating model suggests to me any particular competence or expertise with successfully educating lower performing students in an urban environment. Engagement or collaborations with our colleges could be helpful but students in our schools face a myriad of issues and challenges not present in a college or university's typical student. I'll be interested to see what develops but would love to see how this model has played out in other areas before betting the farm on this approach.

13 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Matt McDermott on 04/02/2014 at 3:29 PM

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