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School 41's future uncertain 

The Rochester school board is once again faced with the question of what to do with one of its lowest performing schools. School 41, in the Kodak Park area, was one of two statewide that didn't meet performance goals last year. (Buffalo school district's Build Academy was the other.)

Last week State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia intervened and set the stage for possibly removing the school from the district's supervision. The Rochester school board has 60 days to give her a plan for the school's future.

The school board has several choices, says board President Van White: close the school and send its students to other city schools, close the school and open a new one, or give Elia a recommendation for a "receiver," someone besides the superintendent to manage the school.

Closing the school, which could create hardship for students and families, "would be the nuclear option," White says. "But nothing has been ruled out."

School 41 has about 500 students, many with special needs such as autism spectrum disorder. If it closed, the district would have to find places for all 500 students in other schools, White says.

White says the board will meet sometime this month to discuss the school's future. The State Education Department listed School 41 and 13 other city schools as "receivership schools" three years ago. Since then, three have improved enough to be removed from the Education Department's list. A fourth, Charlotte High School, was closed, and East was placed under the University of Rochester's management. Aside from School 41, the others have been making enough progress to avoid being closed or placed under new management.

Elia's announcement about School 41 wasn't a complete surprise, White says.

"Progress was being made, but it just wasn't happening fast enough," White says.

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