The Rochester City School District is set to undergo a comprehensive reconfiguration starting in September 2024. This change is in line with the new grade structure (PreK-6, 7-8, 9-12) approved by the Board of Education in August 2022.
RCSD officials say the reconfiguration is a response to a consistent decline in enrollment over the past decade and is aimed at creating better learning and extracurricular opportunities for students.
In the plan, which includes closing 11 schools and reconfiguring the district, there are mixed opinions among stakeholders. While Carmine Peluso, RCSD Superintendent of Schools, believes that these changes will provide better opportunities for students, Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski emphasizes the need for fairness to teachers and the support of families.
The plan includes recommendations for several school closures including Clara Barton School No. 2, Dr. Walter Cooper Academy School No. 10, Adlai E. Stevenson School No. 29, Andrew J. Townson School No. 39, RISE Community School No. 106, and Wilson Foundation Academy. Additionally, the recommended building closures are School No. 20, School No. 29, School No. 39, School No. 44, and School No. 106.
The reconfiguration will impact various schools and campuses. Nathaniel Hawthorne School No. 25 will move to the current site of School No. 2, and Montessori Academy School No. 53 will move to the Dr. Walter Cooper Campus. Middle schools will include the Charlotte Campus, Douglass Campus, East Lower School, Freddie Thomas Campus, Jefferson Campus, and Wilson Foundation Academy Campus. A new high school will be established at the Franklin Campus, and Rochester Early College International High School will move to the Dr. Alice Holloway-Young Campus.
Certain programs will also be relocated. The NorthSTAR Program will move to the Franklin Campus, the RIA program will remain at the Jefferson Campus, the Rochester Early Childhood Education Center will remain at 107 N. Clinton Avenue, All City High will remain at 1305 Lyell Avenue, and LyncX will remain at 30 Hart Street.
Superintendent Peluso argues that the current system, with its multiple configurations, leads to confusion among parents and students. By implementing a pre-K-6, 7-8, and 9-12 structure, the district aims to simplify the transition process and provide a clear path for students. According to Peluso, this reconfiguration will also allow for the allocation of resources and facilities more efficiently, ensuring that students have access to high-quality opportunities.
Urbanski acknowledges the need for change due to a 40% decline in student enrollment since 2000. However, he emphasizes the importance of considering the impact of school closures on educators and providing them with appropriate support and opportunities for professional growth.
Board of Education President Cynthia Elliott highlights the significance of having comprehensive information to make the right decision.
Peluso claims the comprehensive reconfiguration of the Rochester City School District is a necessary step to address the consistent decline in enrollment and to create better learning and extracurricular opportunities for students. The plan is guided by several criteria and is set to take effect in the 2024 – 2025 school year. The Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the plan on October 19, 2023.