RCSD Parent Advisory Council President Candice Lucas Running for School Board

By Delani Weaver
Thu, Apr 11, 2013

Rochester resident Candice Lucas has decided to run for a seat on the Rochester City School Board. She plans to make a formal announcement in a few weeks.

With a platform of “improving the lives of all district students through parental involvement and family engagement,” Lucas, a Democrat, says she will advocate for system changes that benefit all district students and families through “focused, effective and altruistic leadership, striving for the highest standards of integrity, transparency and accountability.”

Lucas currently serves as president of the Rochester City School District (RCSD) Parent Council. Her involvement with the RCSD includes work with the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the school based planning team.

“I have two children in the district, an eighth grader and a ninth grader. I have been involved in district affairs for eleven years, from the time my kids were in pre-kindergarten until now,” Lucas said. “…At this point I just feel it’s more important for me to be a part of the decision-making process with a vote on the school board as opposed to just an advisory capacity in the parent council.”

Lucas was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and earned an MBA in leadership and management from RIT. “I moved to Rochester to attend RIT and have been here since,” she said.

Her community involvement includes immediate past president and board chair of TNT (True Networking Thursdays), a local business networking organization. She currently serves on the board of directors of Empire Justice Center, Hillside Family of Agencies and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Central NY region.

Lucas said the main thing she believes the district needs is work on its family and parent engagement policy.

“We know for a fact that when parents are involved in their children’s education, that attendance is better, that grades are better, the test scores go up and the graduation rate goes up,” she said. “This is the number one thing that the district and the school board need to be focusing on.”

Lucas said there is no one reason that the district is failing. There is room for improvement in all aspects of the school system.

“There are areas that are challenging across the board,” Lucas said. “However, we know that one clear cut way to start seeing some progress is to truly make sure our parents are engaged as partners in their children’s education. We don’t have that type of system currently.”

Lucas works full-time for the Center for Community Health (CCH), a program of the University of Rochester.

“We (CCH) do some work in the area of childhood obesity through our involvement on several community coalitions,” she said. “In part, good health is part of being prepared for the school day. Making sure the kids are fed, that they’re sleeping, that they’re having doctors’ appointments, they’re not sick and making sure they’re taking care of themselves. So, that’s across the board. We’re definitely interested in the health of the community overall.”

When asked whether or not she was in favor of the proposed school day expansion, Lucas said, “We’re in a critical stage with the school district and we need some drastic change. We need to make sure that our kids are in school and that they’re learning. We are behind… so longer days are an option as long as we have a plan for how those days will be used. It should not be just keeping kids in school longer doing the same thing that we’re currently doing. Obviously, what we’re currently doing is not enough for our kids to succeed, so we can’t just go with the same plan. What we need to do is make sure that some of these other services are incorporated in that as far as making sure the kids are getting homework help, they’re getting more quality time with their teachers for instruction that they’re getting—if they need—tutoring or extra assistance in the classes that they can’t get during the regular school day; that there’s time for the arts and for physical activity and play. I mean, we know that the kids need these things; so all of those different aspects have to be built in the plan.”

Lucas said the longer school day model will also give teachers more time to prepare their work and keep the lines of communication open with other teachers for students that are going from one grade to another or one class to another but parents must be involved.

“It’s not mandatory for all children and I think that parents and families need to be aware of that and how it works so they can be engaged in that process as well,” Lucas said. “So, it’s not something that’s being done to them, but it’s something that they fully understand and buy into.

There are currently three commissioner seats expiring in 2013 including Jose Cruz, Cynthia Elliott and Van Henri White. Since the city of Rochester is highly democrat, democratic candidates who win in the September primary are most likely a “shoe in” for the November general election.

Candidates who have indicated a desire to run include Mia Hodgins, Howard Eagle, Earnest Flagler Mitchell, and former board member Allen Williams.

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