Commissioner Adams believes in strengthening neighborhood schools. During her first year on the board the district updated the multi-year Facilities Modernization Plan for improving school buildings across the district. She was a vocal proponent of a more open planning process and sought out the involvement of neighborhood groups and school communities. She continues to insist on authentic school community involvement in decisions impacting the future of schools.
This year, School 44 families, staff and a supportive group of 19th Ward neighbors succeeded in securing a school board directive written by Commissioner Adams to keep School 44 open, serving students in prekindergarten through grade 6, until School 16 returns back to the neighborhood in 2018 or soon thereafter. The board resolution captured a collective desire for stable neighborhood school choices.
The State Education Department is requiring that our district close school buildings due to declining enrollment and cost. In 2013, five facilities were approved for closure in upcoming years based on building age, condition and features of school sites. Schools 44, 54, 22, 25 and 36 were designated for closure of their buildings. The 2013 decision stated that School 44 would close “by 2020-2021,” but district leaders would not say when they intended to close the school. This uncertainty was damaging for the school community and led some families to choose schools where they could expect more stability and continuity. Broad community support and advocacy finally paid off in the April, 2015 board resolution which established a plan to ensure stability and predictability. The plan explicitly requires school improvement planning for both School 44 and School 16 to be based on the principles of neighborhood community model schools, and assumes a strong community and school based planning process.
While it remains deeply disappointing that the School 44 building will close in the future, we should celebrate that neighborhood students will benefit from a deliberate, well planned transition process into a newly equipped 21st Century community school. The major renovation of School 16 on Post Avenue is estimated to be completed in 2018, and neighborhood students from School 44 will be welcomed along with neighborhood children who have been attending School 16 in its temporary location across town. Until that transition School 44 will remain open as high quality, welcoming educational setting for our children.
All communities can get involved in strengthening their neighborhood schools – Commissioner Adams would be happy to help you get involved. Call her at 585-317-2367.
To get involved in supporting schools in Southwest Rochester contact John Boutet at firstname.lastname@example.org