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Warren continues to push for change in school governance 

Mayor Lovely Warren ratcheted up her campaign pressuring local lawmakers to go along with a proposal from state education officials that would dramatically change the governance of the city school district in hopes of improving student performance. 
click to enlarge Mayor Lovely Warren - PHOTO BY RYAN WILLIAMSON
  • Mayor Lovely Warren

On Wednesday, Warren released a short video on Facebook that makes a direct appeal to the public to join her in support of changing the district's governance. The video features children asking for the public's help. The names of state legislators and contact information is shown in the video.

A similar advertisement is featured prominently on the City of Rochester's website.

At a press conference today, Warren said state education officials came to her and asked if she wanted mayoral control of the district. Warren said wasn't interested in mayoral control, something she has said repeatedly.

But Warren said she fully supported the plan recently floated by state education officials, including Regents T. Andrew Brown and Wade Norwood. The plan — a framework in the officials' words — involves dissolving the Rochester school board and replacing it with a board appointed by the regents. The superintendent would report to Commissioner MaryEllen Elia until the appointed board is in place. Governance would return to an elected school board after five years, according to the plan.

Some lawmakers objected to it and told Elia to come back with a different proposal, Warren said.

"Why are we fighting so hard for something that isn't working," Warren said. "We have people who are afraid of what we'll lose instead of looking at what we'll gain."

Warren said she has not been presented with a revised version of the state officials' plan.

Assembly member Harry Bronson said during an interview this afternoon that he remains opposed to any plan that would remove the elected school board.

"I think it is overreaching and I think it disenfranchises the people that we need to hear from, and that's the families of the City of Rochester," Bronson said. " And in fact, the distinguished educator's report points out that there needs to be more community involvement in all kinds of ways, and I think voting is the ultimate community involvement."

The state legislative delegation hasn't received a proposal from Elia that included removal of the school board, Bronson said. He added that Warren's video "is pushing a plan that doesn't exist."

"I do think it's important for us to continue to have discussion and to have dialogue, because I agree with the mayor that every child has a right to and actually deserves a quality education," Bronson said. "And we need to take steps to make sure that we're improving the learning and the teaching in our Rochester City School District, so I'm on board with that."

Bronson said he's working on legislation to better outline the role and responsibilities of school board members and of the superintendent. He also supports the expansion of community schools as well as the development of a Children's Advisory Council. Warren, too, has called for more community schools, which offer various types of family and student support.

Bronson also said he's talking with other state and local elected leaders, education experts, union officials, and community leaders about ways to address concerns outlined in Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino's report on the district.

This is a developing story.

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