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East-EPO Program Overview and Financials

It seems that after June 2025, the nearly 10-year partnership between the University of Rochester and East High School will finally be terminated, with the educational system of RCSD taking over the role of East-EPO once again.

This decision came after the RCSD school board voted 4-3 to terminate the university's partnership with East High.

Despite efforts by university leaders to extend the partnership beyond June 2025 to aid in the transition, they had to settle for a deadline that would return to the RCSD system after a year and a half.

The district said that the EPO costs up to $3 million annually and that costs needed to be reduced due to declining enrollment.

What is EPO and what are its tasks?

The EPO program is, in fact, an abbreviation for "Educational Partnership Organization," which is an educational collaboration model implemented in schools to improve education within the community.

This organization most often collaborates with public schools, and its main goal is to support schools in their efforts to improve academic outcomes and the overall learning experience for students, as well as to support them in addressing challenges such as poor test scores, low graduation rates, and all other difficulties that schools encounter in their work.

The EPO program is most commonly implemented in schools facing challenges such as urban poverty, and it aims to provide quality education to all students regardless of socioeconomic or other factors.

Reports suggest this program achieves the best results when parents and the community are engaged through various activities, including curriculum development, school management, and staff training.

Since 2015, the University of Rochester has been committed to the East-EPO program, and this program has been crucial to all the school's subsequent successes, being the most significant partner in turning around the results.

We can confidently say that the East model has created a complete change in the school culture and has translated into success, surpassing all expectations when many believed it to be impossible.

Budget 2023-2024.

At a recent meeting, Superintendent Marlene Blocker presented a slideshow for East EPO 2023-2024, showcasing their budget and expenses.

The total amount they had available was $21,892,614 in total, and it was spent on six parts, as follows:

· Transport 0.4% or $84,423

· Equipment 0.8% or $175,995

· Contingency 0.8% or $178,812

· Instructional and supplies 1.9% or $415,527

· Contractual 2.8% or $606,472

· Salary 93.3% or $20,431,385

After explaining all the expenses through the slides, Mrs. Marlene Blocker also gave an overview of their surpluses over the years and where those surpluses went.

From 2015 to 2023, a total of $27,763,878 was returned to the RCSD fund balance, which remained after all the costs incurred by East-EPO.

In addition to these statistics, it was also shown how the funds were spent.

How were the funds spent?

Spending of funds allocated to East EPO was done through daily literacy instructions for grades 6-9, additional staff for SEL support, extended learning time for students, professional development for staff to be up to the task, and leadership training for administrators and teacher leaders.

In addition, Mrs. Blocker emphasized that the main goal, along with fiscal caution, is not purchasing things but investing in human capital that helps us expand the horizons of each student individually.

The presentation also showcased some of the program's achievements, including:

· EPO has produced 1284 graduates in the Rochester community since 2024.

· 876 athletes have learned the value of teamwork by participating in 55 sports events in the East.

· The EPO Vision Care program has helped by visiting all Elementary schools at least three times over 4400 pairs of glasses and fixing hundreds, which has helped students with vision problems to see better.

· The graduation rate has increased from 33% to 81%.

· The graduation rate for Black scholars has increased from 38% to 86%.

· The graduation rate for Hispanic scholars has increased from 26% to 78%.

· Dropout rates have decreased from 41% to 12%.

As the program looks to the future, Mrs. Blocker was tasked with creating a new presentation to outline budget projections for the upcoming year. Despite the impressive past statistics, the board president emphasized the importance of looking ahead to ensure continued success and progress for the program.


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