WXXI AM News

Rochester City School District

Three candidates are vying for two seats on the Rochester City School Board. Mental health expert Melanie Funchess and health worker Beatriz LeBron were appointed to the board in January, following the departure of Malik Evans and Mary Adams. Now, they must run again to fill the remainder of the terms, and they have some competition. Reverend Judith Davis is also on the primary ballot.

This hour, we hear from the three candidates about their platforms and their priorities for the Rochester City School District. We discuss teacher evaluations, testing, how to address student and parent needs, and their thoughts on a number of changes proposed for the district. It's an opportunity for you to ask them your questions before the primary on September 13. In studio:

Emily Hunt for WXXI News

The Rochester City School District has been awarded almost $4 million in grant money to support “well-rounded educational opportunities.”

The $3.75 million grant distributed by the state comes from a $28.5 million pot of federal money designated for “persistently dangerous” low-income schools with “consistently underperforming subgroups of students.”

Schools could apply for grants in one of three categories: safe and healthy students, effective use of technology, and well-rounded educational opportunities.

The Rochester City School District has released its proposed budget, and it has slated an increase in funding for bilingual education staff and services. The Children's Agenda recently released its analysis of that proposed budget.

The request for more funding comes after more than 500 students from Puerto Rico enrolled in the district. They moved to Rochester after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

We talk to education experts and parents about the kinds of services bilingual students need. Our guests:

  • Eamonn Scanlon, education policy analyst for The Children’s Agenda
  • Beatriz LeBron, commissioner for the Rochester City School Board, and parent
  • Myrna Gonzalez, president of the Bilingual Council, and parent
  • Wailany Olivo, parent of two children in the Rochester City School District
  • Lydia Rodriguez, translator and parent

Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

Kenneth Eastwood’s appointment as distinguished educator to the Rochester City School District has been rescinded.

A statement from the New York State Education Department said Eastwood could not come to an agreement with the school board regarding his contract.

But School Board President Van White said he was surprised by the decision.

"We were engaged in negotiations," he said via phone, "and actually had set aside office space [for Eastwood] in central office."

Eastwood's appointment was scheduled to begin April 25.

Veronica Volk / WXXI News

As the Rochester City School Board prepares to vote on a budget for the next school year, they are facing criticism for their bilingual and special education programs. A report from the Children's Agenda says even though the school district is proposing investments in these areas, there needs to be more transparency and oversight in the process.

Three years ago, Wailany Olio left her home in Puerto Rico and moved to Rochester. She brought her son, who is 8, and her daughter, who is 6.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has appointed someone to, as Elia puts it, give the Rochester City School District “much-needed assistance in developing and implementing plans to carry out its responsibilities to ensure all children in the district receive the education they deserve.”

Elia has appointed Kenneth Eastwood as “Distinguished Educator,“ and she says he has the experience and skill needed to help children in the Rochester district’s low performing schools.

In a pair of news conferences late Tuesday afternoon, officials from both the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District admitted that mistakes were made in the events that led up to the death of 14 year old Trevyan Rowe. 

Rochester students celebrate World Hijab Day

Feb 2, 2018
Tianna Manon

Students and staff at 15 local schools and universities sported hijabs Thursday in solidarity with Muslim women worldwide. It’s part of World Hijab Day, which takes place every February 1 and began six years ago. The goal is to educate people about the discrimination and prejudice Muslim women face.

It’s the third year students at World of Inquiry have participated. Roughly a dozen gave up their lunchtime to hand out hijabs, wrap them properly or simply ask questions about being Muslim.

World of Inquiry students march to City Hall

Dec 15, 2017
Tianna Manon

Single digit temperatures couldn’t stand in the way of World of Inquiry Students marching through downtown Friday.

They were celebrating College March Day, an annual event where graduating seniors walk from the school’s location on University Ave to City Hall. There, they deliver letters indicating their college choice and thanking the adults and supportive friends who helped them get there. Local officials join the students, hoping to encourage them.

Alex Crichton / WXXI News

Rochester School Board President Van White has a message for anyone concerned about 690 Saint Paul Street. He says until the data shows otherwise, the building is safe.

“Monroe County Department of Health, again, these are people who get degrees and research and understand it. They’re not educators in this building. I’m not the one making the call saying the building is safe. These folks have degrees and have looked at this kind of thing. They're saying it’s safe.”

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