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Finalists for RCSD Supt. take part in community forums

April Franklin

The Rochester City School District held forums over the weekend to let the public learn more about the four finalists for district superintendent.

Forums for candidates Sito Narcisse and George Eric Thomas were held on Saturday.  Sunday was focused on candidates Terry Dade and Devon Horton. All of the forums were held at the Freddie Thomas Learning Center on Scio Street.

Questions were submitted by parents, staff and community members through the district's website.

Parent Nicolle Hayes attended both days. She said that when it comes to  community feedback, the district still could do a better job including parents and community members in the decision-making.

“Yeah there’s a Q and A box out there. But you didn’t specifically ask based on the leadership profile that you posted, ‘What do I think about each candidate,’  so that use can use that information in your final decision. “… if you really want to hear from people, you have to be thoughtful about it. Don’t just invite me in, because you want to say you did,” Hayes said.

Recently, School board Member Judith Davis publically criticized the board for the search process and not including a candidate from the community. All four of the finalists are from out of town.

RCSD school board president Van White defended the process.

“I think the process has allowed the very least to see how they respond to questions from the community. And what’s also the interesting benefit, is you noticed they had to answer questions supposedly within 90 seconds. And that kind of intense pressure… responding to serious questions and how you give your answer,” White said.

School 29 principal Joe Baldino attended all four sessions. He says he has been working in RCSD for the past four decades and says the next superintendent needs to be able to collaborate.

“A superintendent comes in, they bring their own people in, they have this grand plan and then they do all these changes, and make all these changes in mostly three years,  four years, (then) they’re gone.  This next person really needs to come in and actually walk the walk. Say they want to be collaborative …and work with those of us that have been here for a long time.”

The Rochester School Board  is expected to select the next superintendent by the end of June.