SW Education Committee, Tuesday March 5th, 2013 Meeting at Arnett Library

The Meeting convened at 6:12 pm.
Present: Mary Adams, John Boutet, Ken Chandler, Kathy King, John Laing, Dan Ross, Jay Ross, Diane Watkins, Sarah Yaworsky

The meeting started with an update of the School 16 Survey results.   John Laing had received about 60 more paper surveys from School 16.   These had been sent home with students and returned to the school.   Kathy has added those to the surveys that were filled out on line and is analyzing the results.   Here is the Summary Kathy sent of the results:

Summary of Community Survey regarding the future of School 16

The purpose of this survey was to identify the attitudes of School 16 parents and staff as well as residents of the 19th Ward to the possible changes to the school resulting from the facilities improvement plan of the City School District, and in particular to the possible closing of the current School 16 building.  The questionnaire was made available on-line at http://www.location19.org and hard copies were distributed through the school.

In all, 245 questionnaires were returned.  In addition to answering the questions, 117 people added comments.  Of those, 105 were usable comments.  Respondents include people with children currently at School 16 (35%), people whose children attended School 16 in the past (19%), and others in the community who were not School 16 parents (44%).

Most respondents (79%) believe that it is important to have the School building on Post Avenue renovated and reopened.  As well, most (72%) would like to see the building available for use by community groups in the evening and weekends.

Most respondents (82%) thought that School 16 should include kindergarten through 6th grade, while 24% thought the school should include kindergarten through 8th grade. Most people (78%) support a prekindergarten program offered at School 16.  Other potential programs endorsed for inclusion at School 16 are a before-school program (55%), a health clinic (51%), and mental health services (47%).

Having children bussed to school was viewed as extremely important by 33% of respondents and very important by another 22% of respondents.

The comments written by 117 people break down into 4 general categories.

Location:   The strongest theme, voiced by nearly 30% of respondents, is that School 16 should be a community school with organic ties to the neighborhood where parents and the community are closely tied to the school, many kids walk to school, parents know each other, etc. Respondents see this as benefiting both the school and the community and these two impacts are so often intertwined that we made no effort to separate them.

Additional comments, each made by a little over 7% of the respondents mentioned walking distance, the centrality of the location to the large number of kids in the 19th Ward, and vocalized a generalized support for neighborhood schools.  Combining all of these responses, over half of those who added comments saw the Post Avenue location as important.

Building Recommendations:  75% of the respondents wanted the school to stay on Post Avenue. Of those, 8% suggested a new building and 21% suggested renovating and upgrading the current facility.  A smaller number recommended abandoning the current location and using existing CSD facilities (8%).  Only 3% recommended keeping the school in the current location at Freddie Thomas School.

Program Recommendations:   There were relatively few program recommendations including generalized support for small schools and the provision of services such as mental health services in the schools.  Of those who said something about the best age range, 3 times as many preferred pre-k or k through 6 to pre-k or k through 8, but the numbers are very small.

Other:   The numbers are small but over 10% of the respondents were bitter and felt that the district had “betrayed” them by deliberately not doing needed maintenance on the school or lying to them about what the process was going to be.  Nine percent wanted the school kept open because of a personal history with it (multi-generational School 16 families) while 3.6 % expressed concerns about Freddie Thomas (e.g. safety or intimidation by older kids).


Next the group discussed what had gone on at RCSD meetings some of us had attended.   We had attended two Budget Open House meetings, on Feb. 12 and 26.  At both meetings the Superintendent and the CFO, Bill Ansbrow, reviewed the budget issues facing the RCSD for the coming year and asked the community members present to provide their input on priorities they have on various issues.  Tables were set up to address various topics such as elementary education , secondary education, support services such ass busing, etc.  A facilitator was assigned to each table to record the input.  At the first meeting Tim Mains, Director of Internal Operations, was the facilitator at the table where John Laing, John Boutet and Sarah Yaworsky participated.  The discussion stressed the need to reduce cross town busing and the importance of neighborhood schools, community involvement etc.   Tim Mains summarized the input well.   After that meeting we also had a chance to talk to some of the board members who were present.  The second meeting had a similar emphasis by our participating Education Committee members.  Sheila Driscoll was also present at that second meeting which was held at Freddie Thomas Learning Center.

The next important meeting for us to attend is the March 14th Work Session - Final Deliberations on Draft Facilities Master Plan – at Central Office, Conference Room 3A.  We probably will not get a chance to speak at this session but Kathy King will send the School 16 Survey results to the Superintendent and the School Board members ahead of time.  Our presence is important.

We then discussed that the School 10 PTO Letter and other new information that might be used for having 19WCA reissue an updated position letter. Sarah will check that out with the 19WCA officers.

Sarah had contacted the Facilities Planning Division of the NYS Education Department to get a clearer picture of what is needed to get state funds for renovations. Criteria for state is seats needed district wide. We need to explore how need for Neighborhood Schools factors into the state formula.

What do we keep working on ?

We should try to reach out to Board members Malisza Campos who we have not spoken to enough and talk more with Willa Powell

Dan will contact Patricia Malgieri whom he knows.  She is RCSD Chief of Staff.

The meeting adjourned at 7:42pm.

Minutes submitted by John Boutet and Kathy King

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