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School 41 to close and a new school to open in its place 

School 41, a pre-kindergarten through sixth grade school at 279 West Ridge Road in the Kodak Park neighborhood, will close at the end of this school year, and the district will re-open it as a new school with a different focus.

That was the Rochester school board's decision last week as a result of the school's persistent failure to improve. New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia notified the district earlier this year that she was designating School 41 as a receivership school. Schools with that designation are typically schools that have been among the persistently lowest performing in the state, and their students' academic achievement hasn't improved as much as the state requires.
click to enlarge Rochester school board president Van White. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Rochester school board president Van White.

Elia's decision gave the school board a limited set of options. It could choose an independent entity like a university to assume management of the school, which it has done with East High School. It could close the school and disperse its students to other city schools. Or it could close the school and reopen it as a different school. The board decided that the latter was the most appealing, board President Van White said.

School 41 has about 510 students, and a majority are black and Hispanic. In 2016, just 4 percent of students were proficient in English and 5 percent were proficient in math, according to state test results. In 2017, only 4 percent were proficient in English and 6 percent in math.

The school has already added programs to help boost students' achievement. It is one of the Rochester schools that has extended the length of the school day, for instance, and according to the district's website, it has a variety of other special programs to help low-performing students. But that hasn't been enough.

As part of the change, district officials will have to develop an entirely different approach to instruction that addresses the needs of students and families. "We can't just reopen under a different name," White said. "It has to be an entirely different school."

Elia has to approve whatever the district comes up with, and White says the goal is to have a plan ready to submit to Elia in March 2018 so the new school can open in the fall of 2018.

"It's a very short window," White said.

It's not clear whether that will mean staff and faculty will have to reapply for their positions similar to what happened when the University of Rochester took over management of East High School, White said.

This article has been updated to match the version that appears in the December 13, 2017 print edition.

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