19th Ward Schools Committee

7:00 pm, 6 December 2022

Present by Zoom: John Boutet, Jane Braband, Douglas Giebel, Phyllis Moss, Elisa Ruise, Sarah Yaworsky.

Dr. Phyllis Moss, chair of the committee, began the meeting by having the participants introduce themselves. Phyllis shared a chart of the community site coordinators of the schools in the 19th Ward area and their community engagement meetings, and introduced the community site coordinator for school 16, Elisa Ruise, who was present for the meeting.

School 16 Report: Elisa Ruise, the new community site coordinator for School 16, reported on aspects of her responsibilities at School 16. Most of her work in her first month at School 16 has been addressing the high absenteeism—almost 50%— at the school. She has been calling parents to determine why their children are not attending classes, with health concerns, transportation difficulties, and homelessness among the frequent reasons for student absences. She expressed an eagerness to improve parent involvement in the academic development of their children. She indicated that 70 parents showed up for an entertainment night, a movie shown at the school, and is hoping for more engagement with the academic work of the students. Elisa stated that she is very interested in talking more about starting a tutoring program at School #16 like the one at School #10.

Homelessness and Student Absence: As homelessness was mentioned as a cause of student absence, several possible solutions to this issue were discussed. School 44, which is currently empty and not being used, was suggested as a potential residence for homeless families with children in the public schools. The time necessary to adapt the building to this purpose, and the stigma it might bring upon the students whose families reside there, were seen as discouraging factors. Another empty building, an unused hotel on Brooks Avenue, near the canal, was mentioned as a possibility for housing homeless families. Phyllis suggested that a more immediate strategy more immediate strategy would be to help families better navigate the system by connecting them to the Emergency Services and Family Stabilization Network.

Parent Involvement: Phyllis expressed her concerns surrounding the need for greater parental involvement in their children’s academic engagement. She also mentioned that these concerns go beyond issues originally addressed by the Commission on Racial and Structural Equity (RASE). She indicated that the focus of our committee was properly placed upon assisting the students’ academic development, through the tutoring and spelling bee efforts we are presently engaged in. She suggested that the Committee might consider writing for the 19WCA Newsletter as well.

Homework Club: Phyllis mentioned that she is continuing an after-school Homework Club with her son and several other committed students at its core to assist in the academic accomplishment of these students. She plans to provide a snack, help them with their homework, and play an educational game with them. She is eager to welcome any students who care to join in these activities, either in person (at her home presently), or by Zoom.

Spelling Bee: Douglas Giebel reported on plans being laid for an April, 2023 bee held on the university campus. In-person practices will be held on Saturday mornings at the Arnett Library beginning on 14 January, 2023 from 11am to 12 noon. Zoom practices will also be added weekday late afternoons as needed. We are awaiting confirmation of a coordinator from the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity to spearhead the practices and plan the bee events on the university campus. The Monroe County Legislature grant is giving $3,500 in support for the scholarships the Rochester Area Community Foundation is providing for past bee winners.

Action Items:

  1. Phyllis will provide more information about the Emergency Services and Family Stabilization Network.

  1. Phyllis will reach out to Lee Loomis about the possibility of starting a tutoring program at School 16.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:05 pm with the next zoom meeting set for 7:00 pm on 3 January 2023.

Respectfully submitted,

Douglas Giebel, Secretary pro tem

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