Other

Discuss any other issues relevant to the Rochester City School District.

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Dr Cala's recomendation document

I have read your Entry Plan, and am now reading Dr Cala's parting recommendations document.

As a secondary level parent, I see that in his brief time with RCSD, Dr Cala has made a thorough and insightful analysis of the current situation (and couched it in language 'regular people' can understand!), with practical, tho' sometimes difficult to fund, proposals.

To what degree you see Dr Cala's recommendations document as a part of your draft vision and strategic plan?

Elaine Weinzler Francesco
School of the Arts
- SBPT Parent Rep
- PTSA Secretary
- "Active Parent"

Special Education

When I was a younger parent, I made the mistake of allowing my child to be classified and given an IEP. Although he has needed various services at different times it is frustrating to know that he could receive a special education diploma and have no prospects for higher education despite the fact that he has been in an inclusion setting since preschool and has developed in line with his peers with consultative instruction. He must take his tests without modifications and meets the state standards.
This is a serious situation in the district given the number of males, particularly hispanic and african american males, in special education. Despite asking school board members, distirict officials, even a member of the African-American Health Status Task Force to examine methods used for evaluation and monitoring special education I get no answer. I understand that this is a complex issue but as a parent I would definitely be fully engaged in any effort to address this area.
What is your perspective about the disproportionate number of males held in special education?

your tenure here

Dear Dr. Brizzard,
You appear to have a good understanding of problems in urban schools. I am a retired teacher from the District, having served 25 years. I saw many superintendents come and go on a regular basis. They all had ideas they wanted to implement, but don't stay long enough to have a real, lasting impact. The superintendents in the suburban districts stay much longer. On this morning's broadcast, I heard you say what you thought the District should look like in 5 years. My question is, do you plan to still be here in 5 years, and what could conceivably make you leave before that time?

On this afternoon's broadcast, you were asked about Central Office employees numbering over 100 who make over $100,000 per year. Coming from the teaching ranks as I do, our opinion was that C.O. was overstaffed. You said that you did not have that information yet. Is this info easy or hard to get? I think easy, and I would like to hear more about that.

Thank you for coming here and trying to make a difference.

Keeping families in the city

Welcome to Rochester, Superintendent Brizard.

In order to reduce the concentration of poverty in our schools, it would seem the district would be very interested in making middle- and upper-middle class families, who could choose to go elsewhere, feel more comfortable with city schools so that they will stay in the city. (This should be a priority for the City of Rochester as well.) Yet many decisions over the past several years - such as "school choice," which eliminates the guarantee that children can go to their neighborhood school and thus may drive families to the suburbs where they don't have to deal with this unpredictability - have seemed to have the opposite effect, creating even more uncertainty and discomfort.

I am the parent of a bright and curious 4-year-old and will soon face the difficult decision to either stay in the city neighborhood I love, where I can (if I'm lucky enough to get a spot in my neighborhood school or another appealing program like Hola) send my child to a diverse and culturally rich school, or move to the suburbs, where I won't get to live in the kind of neighborhood I want but where at least the schools are a "known quantity." My husband and I are both highly educated and have every reason to believe that our children will do very well in any school they attend; we are also city-living fanatics who really want to believe in city schools.

It sometimes seems that with all the emphasis on the negatives, not to mention the incessant testing, bright kids like mine may get lost in the shuffle.

What can you tell parents like myself who look at all these factors and wonder whether retaining families like ours is a priority for the district?

Thank you and good luck.

School Start Time - Unintended Consequences

You have to be very careful when you consider changing the school day start time based on studies and not on a holistic look at what it will do the community and to the high-achieving students already in the system.

For example, we have children at three different high schools. Part of the choice process was based on the fact that the start times of these three different schools are compatible with our work schedules allowing for solvable but complicated morning commute that gets everyone to their separate places on time.

Due to afterschool activities (sports, plays, volunteer work, clubs, etc) the kids already get home very late (sometimes after 9pm) to START their homework. Changing the school start times will be a huge problem that may very well upset the ability for high-achieving students late in their high-school experience to succeed at the activities their current schedules have allowed them to partake in.

School start time

Superintendent Brizard addressed a valid concern for student safety in the dark early morning hours. He also made a good point about productivity in the first few periods of a school day that starts at around 7:15am. As someone who worked in High Schools in the city and suburban schools as well, I would say that the first few periods were never very productive. Students used that time to bring food into class to have breakfast, and catch a little sleep if they could. The ones who were awake, were barely so and weren't getting much out of the classes.

It is important to have students involved and interested in extracurricular activities. But, let's remember that school should be the first priority. I don't think anyone would suggest students just stay up later to fit it all in. Perhaps something has got to give, and it may have to be an afterschool activity. It is more important that students can stay focused and have a productive school day.

Wellness

In addressing the issue of school lunches, Mr. Brizard also mentioned his concern with seeing soda machines and candy in schools. It may seem like a small detail, but making these small changes is part of what is necessary to make the bigger changes. The fact that he even noticed what is being sold in schools shows that he truly does have the students overall well-being as his first priority.

P.S. The poor quality of school lunches is an issue in suburban schools as well. Perhaps some type of Wellness partnership can be looked into.