Steps forward by schools in receivership

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Nine Rochester schools in receivership have met improvement targets set by the state Department of Education.

These schools, which include five elementary, three secondary and one middle school, “have worked tirelessly as a team, including students, families, teachers, staff, and our community school partners to make this happen. We will continue to stay focused on what is essential to ensure every student is successful,” said Elizabeth Mascitti-Miller, RCSD deputy superintendent of administration and strategic partnerships, in a statement.

In the receivership program, management of schools whose students have failed to meet minimum standards set by the Education Department is put under control of a specially appointed receiver.

East High School, for example, the first RCSD school to be placed in receivership, has been split into two schools—the East Lower School middle school and the East Upper School high school—that have been run by the University of Rochester since 2014.

Alternatively, districts can opt to close schools identified as under-performers. In Rochester, a 10th receivership school, Kodak Park School No. 41, has been shuttered by the district.

Across New York, 60 schools are currently in receivership.

In a statement, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia congratulated school officials for “working diligently to improve instructional programs.” But she cautioned that while schools showed improvement in many areas, “levels of performance remain low and much more intensive efforts must be undertaken to ensure that more students reach higher levels of achievement.”

Schools in the program are designated as either struggling or, if more seriously challenged, as persistently struggling.

Read this post on the school district’s options for the future: “Running out of time.”

In the Rochester district, Northeast College Prep High School, Mary McLeod Bethune School No. 45, Roberto Clemente School No. 8, Nathaniel Rochester School No. 3 and Enrico Fermi School No. 17 are designated as struggling schools, while James Monroe High School, Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9, as well as the East Upper School and East Lower School are marked as persistently struggling.

“Rochester is on the move, building momentum and excitement as we accelerate the agenda to lift our schools and make a collective impact on every child. We applaud each school community,” said RCSD superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams in a statement.

On the job for the past two and half years, Deane-Williams announced her resignation last month. She is slated to leave Dec. 31.

The state’s receivership announcement comes as Rochester’s  school board begins to work with Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino in a state program designed bring under-performing school districts up to speed.

Named by Elia to guide the RCSD through an improvement process, Aquino issued a 60-page report in mid-November identifying problem areas in which the district needs improvement and laying out steps for achieving improvement. He was to begin working with the school board this month.

The state’s distinguished educator program is relatively recent innovation that has been in place since 2011.  Rochester’s is the third district to be placed in it. A Buffalo distinguished educator served between 2012 and 2015. A Hempstead, L.I., distinguished educator was appointed in 2017 and approved by Elia to work with the district for second year in October.

Distinguished educators’ six-figure consultancy fees are paid by school districts to which they are assigned. They report to the state’s education commissioner.

In other news, the Rochester district has received $2.1 million from the state to expand its pre-K program. The money will allow the RCSD to add as many as 164 slots to the 3-year-old early childhood education program, officials say.

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