The Education Committee of the SW Common Council

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

6:30 to 8:00 pm at

Arnett Branch Library, 310 Arnett Boulevard

Here are the meeting notes as a .pdf file:  SWCC Education Committee Minutes 2019-08-28.pdf

The video of this education committee meeting is at:


John Boutet            SWCC Education Committee Chair, 328-4271,

Eleanor Coleman    CFC YouthBuild, 224-5119,

Jessica Coleman   19th Ward Resident/Highland Family Planning,

Pat Connor              Central Public Library, 428-8398,

Dan Drmasich         Rochester Coalition for Public Education, 506-8978,

Mike Dondorfer       UR Americorps VISTA w/ Cornell Co-op 4-H, 753-2568,

John Laing              19WCA Schools Comm & Sch #16 Vol, 235-5236,

Sandra J. Simon     Dir of Spe. Projects & Education Initiatives (Mayor’s Offc), Sandra.Simon@CityofRochester.Gov

Usher, Beverly        19th Ward Resident, ESWA, 705-0451,

Community Schools Summit Review - Documentation from all Summit presentation can be found


  • Featured Keynote Debrah Puntenney, PhD, Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD); focus is on what community’s DO have vs what’s missing? John Laing, John Boutet and Sandra Simon attended the presentation. It was very good.

  • School #17 is a model for Community Schools.

  • Community-based school vs neighborhood schools; Community schools do not have to be neighborhood schools but it helps a lot to have many neighborhood students attending community schools; goal is to have the neighborhood and community merge and be one.

  • There are different approaches and different styles on how to bring about a community school.

  • Dan Drmasich noted that he has been a consultant for School #17 for 3 yrs –over 70 different organizations were engaged and contributed personnel, services, consultants, etc. High cost for doing this. How will it be paid for as we look at replication? Note: Costs are going up and population is going down.

Local Busing & Legislative/ Board of Regents Recommendations Draft Review

  • The Rochester Coalition for Public Education Draft was circulated at the meeting and Dan Drmacich reviewed its background and recommendations to harry Bronson and Betty Rosa. – When members of the Coalition reviewed the Aquino Report they found it had many good recommendations but was missing many other recommendations needed for the growth and development of students. Coalition members met with Harry Bronson who was working on a bill to improve school performance in Rochester. Betty Rosa, Chancellor for the Board of Regents is also interested in submitting a bill that would help Rochester. Bronson and Rosa invited the Coalition to provide input for such legislation.

  • The Coalition currently includes teachers, parents, students, retired principals, concerned citizens, etc. The recommendations included in this draft are all research based – would work based on previous models or experiences people have had. To gather support, the Coalition has reached out to Great Schools for All (propose regional magnet schools that have specialties that would attract metro kids: 50% from City, 50% from County.) More recently the Coalition contacted John Boutet to get input and support from the SWCC Education Committee. Progressive, research-based plan/bill draft includes:

    • Proposing the assignment of two “education monitors” (distinguished educators) to assist Board in achieving the proposed model. These monitors would be local, experienced urban educators, one with high teaching, curriculum development, pedagogy skills and the other with strength in administrative and financial planning skills.

    • Clarifying the role of the Superintendent; too much micro-managing by School Board.

    • Agreed-upon conflict resolution specialist who can resolve conflicts among themselves and other entities within the RCSD. Failure for school board members to actively participate would result in disciplinary action.

    • Need a Strategic Plan that deals with curriculum, finance, etc.

    • All Board members to participate in Future Search,, organization that has extensive experience with diverse populations developing visions, goals and action plans to achieve those goals (Philadelphia, Toronto, Montreal, etc.). Institutional racism exists (red liming, job discrimination, etc.) and has been perpetuated in the school system. Future Search would look to involve people from the region, not just the city. Key is to get them involved in the process – ALL are responsible for the dilemma.

    • Developing more resources to help students academically – have to deal with poverty and trauma. Also need to deal with the busing issue. All students in suburbs have transportation to school – no safety issues for getting to school.

    • Establish a strong City, County & RCSD connection – work together on collaborative efforts; lobby more effectively, recommended that it be Co-chaired by Mayor, County Exec, School Superintendent & Board of Education President.

    • How about approaching the children first to determine needs and vision?

    • Establish an Advisory Board for the Board; monthly meeting between Advisory Board (students, parents, RTA, ASAR, local community college, DHS, Mayor appointees, etc.) who would present research-based strategies to the Board for implementation. For example, what are the proven best teaching methods for urban, poor students of color? Present validated case studies and models, then, hold the Board accountable in using one of the recommended methods.

    • Early Literacy Policy and Practice Council – what are the effective ways to teach children to read. Example of how Future Search model was successfully used in Uganda with children.

      • NOTE: Children of color in America have very different circumstances than homogeneous population of Uganda.

    • Great Schools for All – promote equitable funding and resources. All research says that metro schools are more effective. Desegregated schools result in students with better physical and mental health and a better education,

    • Achieving a variance to Common Core and Regents curriculum; provide flexibility.

      • Point out how research confirms that white, suburban middle-class students don’t lose anything academically in this configuration; in addition, they actually increase their degree of respect and tolerance for diversity.

      • This bill is very tedious to go through; is there a way to make this more readable for the layperson. It was noted that this first draft required details which were necessary for the first audience - Bronson and Rosa. On 10/15, from 4-6:30 @ Downtown Rochester Brockport Campus (REOC) they will hold a forum for the community to hear the plan and break up into small groups to speak about each point and work on a plan to help the Coalition achieve that particular goal. Brockport College is a formal partner in this process. The plan is to start off with a number of local people who will speak on each of the points in the plan by giving their perspective and then break into small groups.

SWCC Education Committee will review the document and make a decision as to whether or not to support the process that this document represents at the September meeting and make a decision on whether or not to endorse it.

Question 1: Does this committee represent the community? If not, why not wait until after 10/15 to see what community thinks of the document before giving endorsement. No, we don’t see ourselves as speaking for the community; we are being seen as a co-sponsor of this initiative.

Question 2: Would we retract our support if community doesn’t support the document?

Too often communities of color are spoken for and not engaged as the decision makers. Make this document readable; go to schools in the neighborhood, meet with parents/PTO’s to review an understandable version of this document; feed people at the event; consider paying them. Difficult to choose just one item of the many pieces of the plan; having to choose which one issue to impact is limiting.

Suggestion: Video tape the session; WXXI and RCTV (MCTP closely affiliated w/ RCTV and may be able to help). Use video of local people giving their perspectives as opportunity for discussion.

Review T-Shirt Plans and Goals to Highlight

  • Suggestion: Have students design the t-shirts.

School #29 (4-H Club), School #44 - Mike Dondorfer

  • School #29 4-H Club; Mike Dondorfer, Americorps VISTA member, Rochester Youth Year, works in urban outreach; 4-H offers to expand community clubs (not just agriculture, horses, etc.) anymore. Establish more clubs that promote city life skills – be part of community promoting community development; volunteers sought - all community-led. Colleges becoming involved; has Robert Wesleyan students interested in School #44 area.

Rotary SW / CFC YouthBuild – Eleanor Coleman

  • Last Beats @ Brooks is tomorrow, 6-8 pm, featuring the Mambo Kings. This event is used as an opportunity to engage residents and students, educate the community on the Rotary SW, and promote businesses in the area.

  • New formal Rotary SW focus is Education & Literacy. We have been generally affiliated with the SouthWest schools, providing project support, book drives, etc. but are building Education & Literacy into our Strategic Planning goals.

  • One area we’d like to explore with the NSC office is trades training as it relates to YouthBuild, zombie houses, and code violation education and training.

  • Mayor’s office is working with Obama Foundation program called My Brother’s Keeper – reaching out to young men of color, 10-24; get them into trades when college isn’t the goal; Sandra will reach out to Eleanor.

Rochester Public Library - Pat Connor

  • Hard copy information about programming at Wheatley and Arnett distributed; will also be sent electronically.

  • New class held last night at Maplewood, “How to Become a Citizen.”

  • Pat works out of the Central Library downtown; her role is to provide information at community events, work in branches as a fill-in, do research upon request, etc.

Scribe Services: Eleanor Coleman, CFC YouthBuild & Rotary, 224 -5119,

SWCC Education Committee Chair, John Boutet, 328-4271,

19thWCA Schools Committee Chair, John Laing, 235-5236,

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