The Education Committee of the SW Common Council

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

6:00pm – 7:30pm at

Arnett Branch Library, 310 Arnett Boulevard

Here are the meeting notes as a .pdf file: SWCC Education Committee Minutes 2019-11-27.pdf

Video of this meeting is at: 


Janie Anderson     EMMA Neighborhood Assn; 342-2794

John Boutet              SWCC Education Committee Chair, 328-4271,

Mary Coffey              N. Winton Village Co-Chair; Many Neighbors Bldg Neighborhoods; Public Safety, 


Eleanor Coleman    Rotary SW, CFC YouthBuild, 224-5119,

John Laing             19WCA Schools Committee & Sch #16 Volunteer, 235-5236,

Colleen McCarthy   Many Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Education Chair, 


Dorothy Parham      EMMA Neighborhood Assn, Founder; 794-0111,


RCSD Budget Overrun Update

  • Laying off about 5% of “positions” as opposed to “staff.” Some positions are not filled. This would translate into $7-9 million of the $45 million deficit. City is giving us $10 million toward the deficit which will be paid by taxpayers.

  • Specifics of why the deficit happened have not been identified though the assumption is that the District responded to the high need for school counselors, support staff, etc. without having the necessary funds in hand.

  • Busing – current distances too far out for children to walk safely. Can they make the catchment areas smaller?

  • School funding too grant-dependent, which makes for instability.

  • Rochester is being divided and separated because of busing; neighbors don’t know one another.

  • Education Committee members are invited to attend Neighbors Building Neighborhood meetings.

Community Engagement Teams (CET) videos this fall 10-a, 10-b, 10-c, 19-a, 19-b, 19-c, 19-d – Updates

  • John L. & John B. have both been involved in the CET’s associated with the four SW schools in receivership. The CET’s include school staff and community stakeholders (neighborhood organization reps, business reps, etc.).

  • All of the four schools have the intention of becoming “community schools.”

  • Links above are links to videos of some of the CET meetings.

  • Obvious that there is committed staff at the schools but we need to take into consideration the challenges and barriers today for students (hunger, violence, homelessness, etc.).

  • Just because a child is brought up in an impoverished area, doesn’t mean they have to consider themselves impoverished. Many parents living in areas of poverty raise their children with self-respect, self-worth and with faith-based hope.

  • Teachers need to be more aware of community needs and resources. Working with Daisy Alguarin, Director of all NSC’s, to make a connection between NSC and the schools to provide services that would help teachers become familiar with community resources.

  • Need to be focused on the assets in communities and build on them.

  • Most teachers do not have anything to do with the community that surrounds them. Perception is often a barrier toward teachers getting involved in the community. However, the reality of dangerous communities doesn’t help allay fears.

  • Takeover of East High School by UR has resulted in an exceptional change. Prior to the UR coming in, students were running in the halls, running outside of the building, doing drugs, etc. That is non-existent now. A sense of caring exists. It was noted that the cost of this change required an immense amount of funding.

Discussion of October 29th Community Forum - Rochester Coalition for Public Education - Video, Report

  • Dan Dermacich, leader of Rochester Coalition for Public Education, which is made up of past teachers and administrators, area college professors, parents, etc. who advocate for quality public education. This group fought against the removal of the RCSD elected Board by the State noting that at least with the School Board, people can be voted in and out. School Board shouldn’t be scapegoated for all the RCSD problems. Will be speaking with Wade Norwood on Dec. 4th to advocate for their proposal, “RCSD Intervention Recommendations to Ensure Student Success” for public education. Wade’s children attended their neighborhood schools.

  • Need to change the NY State reimbursement model for busing. Reimburse for local busing. Eliminate the 1.5 mile minimum requirement. Promote attendance in neighborhood schools.

  • Parents need to have a relationship with their children’s teachers. Many parents have no idea who is teaching their children. Crosstown student busing makes it difficult for parents to meet with teachers.

  • Many parents of the children in school now had bad experiences in school when they were attending and their lack of trust has become generational.

  • Ralph Spezio (School #17) and Luis Aponte (NorthWest neighborhood) came to this Committee to offer advice on guiding building renovation for a Community School and how to set one up in August 2019. In the '90's under Ralph Spezio busing was stopped at School #17 to build neighborhood attendance. Principals don't have that power anymore.

  • Communication is not positive. Parents often come in when they are angry or there’s a problem.

  • Charter Schools have a better reputation of being parent-centered and show more interest in their students. Higher graduation rates. It was noted that Charter Schools are also able to send 10% of the students back to RCSD.

  • Union protects teachers who are not performing well. Charter Schools can dismiss ineffective teachers. While Adam Urbanski still maintains leadership for the RTA, RCSD has gone through half a dozen Superintendents.

School Updates

  • School #29

    • Principal, Joe Baldino, very active on community committees and working hard to market School #29 to the neighborhood especially since enrollment is down.

    • Have put in a Community Garden across from the school as wells as a Little Library. Students painted the bollards around the school.

CFC YouthBuild / Rotary SW – Update

  • YouthBuild

    • Last Cohort of the year started 11/4 & is in progress.

    • Are still awaiting word as to whether or not they’ll be refunded.

    • Work with youth ages 17-24; HSE not required. Community Place provides TASC training. One student from last cohort passed his TASC test, continued to volunteer helping other students and was given a 6-week internship by Community Place upon graduation from YouthBuild.

    • Agreement that more technical skills training is needed.

  • Rotary SW

    • Induction Ceremony 12/5, 6pm @ Carlson Commons (40 Coretta Scott Crossing)

    • National Night Out – very small last year; not well attended, especially since SWAN no longer active.

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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Information Links

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