The Education Committee of the SW Common Council

Wednesday, January 24,2024

6-7:30 pm on Zoom

For Zoom Link to future meetings contact John Boutet @

Minutes Posted on:

Link to YouTube Video of Education Meeting:


John Boutet                SWCC Education Committee Chair, 328-4271,

Mary Coffey                N. Winton Village Co-Chair; MNBN-Public Safety,

John Curran                REACH, St. Monica’s, WFM,

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

Jacqueline Griffin   New RCSD School Board Member, 703-1134,

Lee Loomis             School #10 Volunteer Tutor,

Welcome & Introduction

Jacqueline Griffin, new School Board Member, introduced herself and shared the goals she is prioritizing. Currently researching all the educational policies that relate to the job. Very big on literacy and reading. Wants teachers and teacher’s aides to be safe and children educated. Would like to see a strong career track for teacher’s aides.

This group’s role is to monitor the actions taken with respect to education, school closings.

Did not support School #10 being closed; visited the school a few times and found the staff very engaged & committed. One of her initiatives is not to close more schools; schools closing because of mismanagement. Montessori schools have a different way of teaching. Acknowledges having a lot to learn but also has ideas based on her own experiences. Schools closing because of mismanagement. Need to open up the books and see facts. Don’t want to open more Charter schools; how do we make the schools we have the best they can be.

Community members being marginalized. Family dynamics not good. Need to have school safety officers going into the homes to find out what the barriers are. Want to see staff going to homes to see why students aren’t in school and what the barriers are so they can be addressed. Community should be co-located in the schools; would help with safety, building community, etc. Organizations are funded by the City and should be in the schools where the services are needed. Collaboration essential.

Reading a big issue; currently taking away reading teachers. Third graders not able to read which makes it even hard. We’ve been removing essential programming - photography, technology, etc,

Eleanor will connect Jalil Muntaquim a strong advocate active with Citizen Action and a former Black Panther and maintains that most of our violence is directly related to poverty. Starting the new “Industry” for younger people does not address the underlying poverty issues that result in “other” ways

Mary Coffey stressed the success of the UR/East HS collaborative and how it is now in jeopardy of being closed.

Why can’t we have more service providers on site? Why are they in two different buildings? Instead of putting new schools in the building we should be putting service organizations. Jacqueline noted that non-profits get funding from the City to begin with; having them in the building where they could help address problems would allow teachers to teach and service providers to address barriers.

Everyone plays a part. Need to address this as a unit, collaboratively. Too much division; too much self preservation.

It was noted that James Patterson appears to be a strong supporter of children.

Important to obtain and read the data. In 2018-2019, we had 9 reading teachers; in 2020-2021 there were none. It’s our fault; we didn’t advocate for them.

Caterina Leone Manino spoke at the RCPE (Rochester Coalition for Public Education) last meeting about East High. Central Office trying to get more control over East. Caterina replacing Shaun Nelms and actively supports the collaborative relationship.

Lots of people trying to privatize public education. It’s in their interest to see public schools fail. Our goal is to grow and stabilize our community. Teachers need to be engaged.

Who’s watching the “hen house?” Nobody is making sure people are doing their jobs. Division leads to loss.

African students (refugees & immigrants) at a large disadvantage. We haven’t taken care of our own students and now have many students with new significant challenges.

Dan Drmacich, former principal of School Without Walls, leads the CPE; promotes teaching children rather than having them pass the next test. John will send out the contact information for the CPE. Meetings start at 4pm and generally runs to about 5:30pm. Meeting includes many past education administrators.

One of the reasons the UR/East collaborative is in jeopardy is because RCSD wants to use the funds for other schools. Mary insists that East is doing well and should be left alone; find additional funding to replicate this successful model.

City now owns the school properties. What will happen to them? Don’t want the schools to end up as Charter schools.

Bilingual should govern all the languages in our community; currently, we focus on 4 languages. In the Corn Hill area, population represents 7-9 different African languages. Not addressing students with different languages leads to crime. We aren’t taking steps to provide the needed translators, which limits how engaged the parents will be.

Lee Loomis attending events at Scool #10. Monthly meeting for Dads was well attended - breakfast and a topic discussion. Have identified 2 fathers who will take over leadership of the group. Also offer “Moms on the Move” - information for mothers, their children, how to help them with their studies, tutoring, etc. On Fridays, awards given for positive student behavior; students are celebrated in front of their peers for their positive contributions to school climate. Seems decisions about closing schools was made before presenting the change to parents. Lee’s group sent a 4-pt letter on behalf of the Engineering Society to Superintendent to no avail; only one school board member acknowledged the letter and and thanked Lee for their service.

Engineering Society has been tutoring on Tues, Wed & Thurs to prepare students for testing. Have not slowed down despite school closure.

Too many buildings, not enough students. They don’t say that schools are being closed because of poor performance but many of the schools are in receivership. Attendance is a key issue for making decisions. Used to have Truant Officers to find out why student aren’t attending; haven’t heard of Truant Officers for years. Many students at School #10 are homeless; homeless shelters have a limit as to how long families can stay at one location, which then requires changing schools. School doesn’t keep track of students who have to move based on homelessness.

Need working relationships with families.

Liz Hallmark presented to CPE & Superintendent about getting local bussing instituted so we can have more students attending local schools rather than going across town 1.5 miles away which destroys neighborhood cohesion. John is sending a link for her presentation. Half-mile bussing has been proposed at the State level but is currently stalled. Baffling that so many people see the need for promoting neighborhood schools yet there is no movement.

Infuriating to spend large amounts of time formulating alternative plans just to have Central Office push their own agendas.

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