Here are the meeting notes as a Word file: SWCC Education Committee Minutes 2015-10-21.doc

The Education Committee of the SW Common Council
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
6:30 to 8:00 pm at
Arnett Branch Library, 310 Arnett Boulevard
Minutes Posted on:

John Boutet                    SW Common Council Education Committee Chair
Eleanor Coleman           OACES & ProsperRochester, Inc. (Grandparent/School #10)
Mary D’Allessandro        Upper So. Plymouth Neighborhood Association
Joan Kinsella                  Wilson PTO Parent liaison
Bill Nichthauser              19th Ward Resident
Jennifer Lenio                 Rochester Public Libraries (South District)
Betsy Romson               19th Ward Neighbor - Rugby Ave

Meeting Convened at 6:40 pm

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit

Beverly Usher has been representing School #44 well in Albany to make sure State Legislators are informed about the money owed School #44.  (A video of that NY State Legislature Public Hearing: Chronically Struggling Schools and School Receivership can be found at .  In that video Willa Powell's presentation starts at 2:26:58 through 2:31:30 and Beverly Usher starts speaking at 3:42:52 through 3:50:49)  Beverly traveled to Albany Ocober 14th with AQE (Aliance for Quality Education) group to speak before the Assembly's Education Committee which was reviewing the impact of the School Receivership program on our schools.

Subsequently we were able to get AQE to provide us background information on CFE monies owed our schools.  At Eamonn Scanlon's request to Wendy Liberatore, Communications Coordinator, Alliance For Quality Education, 94 Central Avenue, Albany sent us a link to the site that describes the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit and gives us a way to calculate what our schools are owed.  The site is .  Brief history summary:

The Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit was brought against the state of New York by New York City parents claiming the state underfunded the city’s public schools and therefore denied its students their constitutional right to a “sound basic education.” In a landmark 2007 decision, the state's highest court made explicit the state’s constitutional obligation to provide essential resources to all public school children and found that New York State is not providing the funding necessary to fulfill this constitutional obligation.

For two years the state met its obligations, resulting in effective reforms in classrooms around the state. However, in 2009, as a result of the fiscal crisis, school aid was frozen. Then, over the following two years, the state enacted over $2.7 billion in cuts, including over $2.1 billion in classroom cuts, in effect reversing CFE.

The past few years have been incredibly difficult for our public schools. Devastating cuts and inadequate state budgets have taken vital programs and services away from our students. It is the state’s constitutional obligation to educate every student, and it's time that the State renews its commitment to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity before another generation of students graduates without having access to the resources they need to prepare them for college, careers, and life.

It is also very-much recommended you check out: Billions Behind, New York State Continues to Violate Students’ Cons...

The moneys owed our 19th Ward schools based on the calculator on the AQE CFE site are:

  • School #44 - owed $1,876,925.59
  • School #16 - owed $2,429,237.86
  • School #29 - owed $2,120,317.44
  • School #10 - owed $1,488,434.76

Take these number with a grain of salt.  They depend on enrollment numbers provided to AQE for the schools by the District.  For #44 for instance the $ figure is based on an enrollment of 410 students but the latest number we received from the principal is 264.  The drop is the result of the District's attempted school phase out last year which eliminated grades K, 7 and 8 and scared other students away.

We highly recommend you contact your State Assembly and Senate reps David Gantt, NYS Assembly, District 137, 518-455-5606,   Michael H. Ranzenhofer, NYS Senate, District 61,, (518) 455-316, as well as city officials.

The CFE monies owed issue was brought up at the Coffee & Conversation with Dr. Vargas at the morning meeting last week.  Vargas is concerned pursuing CTE$ might cause a review of the total money allocation equation when city enrollment is down & might have a negative impact on total funding. Next C&C is 10/27, 5 p.m. @ Central Office (131 W. Broad).  In discussion of Vargas's fear at AQE meeting past Monday, Rosemary Rivera pointed out two percent (2%) cap on suburban tax increase while costs are going up by 3% means they’ll be going after a bigger portion of the state education allocations, which impacts the amount available to the city.  Big fights for money are coming.

We also discussed:

  • Schoolbooks sitting in depository vs in the hands of students.
  • Need more positive role models in the neighborhood.

Update on School #44 PTO participation

  • Next PTO meeting is Tues, 11/3, 6 p.m
  • Movie Night this Friday from 6-9; arts & crafts; childcare
  • Collecting non-perishable items to make Thanksgiving & Christmas baskets; also collecting tires for the playground; donations can be brought to Beverly’s house (55 Copley).  Mary has arranged to deliver a large amount of tires to Beverly.; tires to be used for the playground (suggestion by Healthi Kids - how to enhance playground without having to spend a large amount of money).

Wilson High School

Our new Wilson HS rep, Joan Kinsella lives on Trafalgar; her children have gone to City schools from Kindergarten to 9th grade. One child has already graduated from Wilson.  Joan volunteers, is a member of school-based planning and advocates for the IB program (worldwide curriculum based on critical thinking on a global platform). IB evaluation is on a global scale vs NYS scale. Wilson to become an “application” school to attract students who are invested in academic rigors. Joan seeking support for application process from this committee. All 8th graders go through a process to choose their school; if they don’t choose, they are placed by the District.  Would like placement to Wilson HS by request only.

Little Free Library and Free Books Update

  • We have agreement with the city to place LFL in city lots but still need to get some built.  John wil talk to Michael Hagelberg who is planning on building us some.  Have had some wood and paint donations.
  • Jennifer suggested we reach out to Edison Tech to get some built.
  • Still have a lot of books to be given away or used in the LFL.

Walk-in item

  • White Privilege session being planned for SW to begin discussion on gentrification, a concern especially in the So. Plymouth area (PLEX, Upper So. Plymouth Neighborhood Association, and Cottage Street Block Club); Mary noted that JOSANA (Lyell Ave area) has a very good presentation on “How to Revitalize a Neighborhood” and Mary will forward that information to Eleanor.

Meeting adjourned at 8:05pm

Minutes by Eleanor Coleman / John Boutet

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