Parent reps for RCSD board committees sought

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The Rochester City School District’s Board of Education is seeking parent representatives to serve on its committees.

All parents or legal guardians of current RCSD students can apply to be on any of the board’s groups as long as they don’t have a financial stake in a committee’s work, the district’s website says. The Audit, Community & Intergovernmental Relations, Equity in Student Achievement, Finance & Resource Allocation, Human Resources, and Policy Development & Review committees are all open for applications, which Board President Cynthia Elliot says are being accepted on a rolling basis.

Parent representatives are non-voting members who can advise elected board officials by raising questions and comments relevant to a committee’s area of concern. Serving can be both an opportunity to learn and a chance to inform decision making. 

“Serving on committees helps parents better understand district policies, processes, and programs,” Elliot says. “Parent reps can influence the direction of discussions and ultimately decisions being made by the board. One of the most valuable components is the ability to elevate the lived experiences of district families as well as sharing pertinent information with other families.”

Terms for parental positions run from July 1, 2023, to June 30, 2024, and come with a two- to four-hour time commitment monthly for Tuesday night committee meetings (which can be attended via Zoom or in person at the district’s central office) and an additional one to three hours per month to review related documents and presentations, Elliot says. 

This comes on top of a one-hour orientation. The district asks each parent to sign on for two years—one to serve as a representative and a second to mentor a replacement—but the second year is optional.

Applications will be reviewed by the entire board, and recommended applicants will be sent for final selection to each committee, according to last year’s call for parent representatives. Selections will be made based on applicants’ prior experience and interest in their desired committee’s focus area. Each focus area is as follows:

■ The Equity in Student Achievement Committee reviews academic metrics, reports, and policies with the aim of advancing student achievement. 

■ The Human Resources Committee has say over an array of matters, including diversity initiatives, new positions, and strategies for recruitment and retention.

■ The Audit Committee aims at securing the proper use of funds in the district by reviewing internal processes, recommending changes, and identifying routes to boosting accountability.

■ The Finance & Resource Allocation Committee is more budget-directed and monitors the district’s balance sheet to suggest specific spending and revenue-generating items to approve.

■ The district’s policies and priorities are set and evaluated against all levels of the law by the Policy Development & Review Committee. 

■ Finally, the Community & Intergovernmental Relations Committee sets the board’s legislative agenda and cooperates with government and local groups to get the district’s concerns handled.

Applications can be submitted by email, mail, or fax. Appointed representatives will be notified by letter and email once they are chosen.

Justin O’Connor is a Rochester Beacon contributing writer.The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Parent reps for RCSD board committees sought

    I am not a school parent so I can’t serve on these boards, but I have been deeply concerned for decades about the failure of Rochester schools. I have written to School Board members, Principals and Superintendents, year after year. I have written letters to the D & C, City News, and Rochester Beacon. I have appeared at Rochester School Board meetings. I have talked to School Board members in my neighborhood. No one listens, period.

    Yes, Rochester School officials are busy, busy, busy. But perhaps, there are ways to get our concerns considered, and acted upon.
    Robert Louis Stevenson said:
    “Man is a creature who lives not on bread alone, but primarily on CATCHWORDS”
    So, maybe we need to find CATCHWORDS that call the educators to action.
    Here, for example, is one catchword idea…

    Can schools focus on getting STUDENTS, TEACHERS and OFFICIALS to BUDGE ???
    How about starting with simple catchwords, like “BUDGE IT,” repeated over and over, again?
    Thanks much Harry S. Pearle Ph.D.

    • “I have written to School Board members, Principals and Superintendents, year after year. I have written letter to the D&C, City News and Rochester Beacon. I have appeared at Rochester School Board meetings. I have talked to School Board members in my neighborhood. No one listens, period.”

      Not true, Mr. Pearle. I was one of those RCSD administrators who took the time and patience to listen to you. You told me the District should “motivate” our four year-olds with Staples’ “Easy” buttons – revealing no evident understanding of basic child development, pedagogy or curriculum; nor that four year-olds are among the most motivated humans on the planet; nor anything about the actual teaching and learning that takes place in this well-recognized prekindergarten program.

      As to your pushing “Easy” buttons for students in other grades? That would work for, oh, a solid 90 seconds.

      For giving you my time, you rewarded me by, without my permission, puting my work email address in a loop so toxic that I had to go to our IT department to block this toxicity you had foisted on me.

      “…How about starting with simple catchwords, like ‘BUDGE IT,’ repeated over and over again . . .”

      Seriously, sir? Do you expect us to believe that you are entitled to further waste my colleagues’ time with more of these cheap and lazy gimmicks? Quite frankly, you have been given far more time than deserved, speaking from my direct experience with you.

      Andrew MacGowan, a Project Administrator at the Office of Early Childhood, Rochester City School District and a co-founder of the Rochester Early Childhood Assessment Partnership, RECAP, in 1992, has been evaluating programs since 1989. The views expressed here are his own and do not reflect the official policy or positions of the Rochester City School District.

      • Thank you for sharing your concerns. “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
        My point, again, is about LISTENING. It has been my experience with RCSD, that they rarely listen to outside ideas. Your defense confirms my experience.

        Yes, for a time, I did suggest EASY buttons to Dr. Vargas, when he was superintendent, and I gave him one, that he kept on his desk. Dr. Shaun Nelms, also got one, at my suggestion. I believe that Dr. Adam Urbanski, at RTA, had one on his desk, but I don’t recall suggesting it to him.

        I have played with all kinds of buttons and devices. But I never insisted that buttons would dramatically motivate students and teachers. It was just an IDEA, a seed, to help to focus on motivation and EQ, emotional intelligence, for students, teachers, parents, and anyone.

        Perhaps, you remember in “The Wizard of Oz” when the Wizard gets exposed. He then has three things to give to the “Tin Man,” the “Scarecrow” and the “Lion.” But for Dorothy, the Wizard has nothing to offer. So, I am suggesting that we look for things, and ideas to offer our struggling students, teachers and parents. Some things may help. But of course we can expect too much.
        (Aspirin has a warning label, but we still take it)

        Again, thanks for sharing your concerns.

        FYI EASY buttons are no longer available from Staples. I suggest other devices and gimmicks, such as the SORRY button, from Zany Toys. I also suggest checking out, for FREE: for parents and teachers, from

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