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State Gives Tentative OK To East High-University Of Rochester Collaboration

May 15, 2014

(Update, 6:00p.m.: Statements from U of R President Joel Seligman and RCSD Supt. Bolgen Vargas are located at the end of this story)

The State Education Department is giving its tentative approval to a collaboration between the University of Rochester and the city school district for a plan to help East High School. But the state wants a quicker timeline.

The state has been pushing for drastic changes at East High due to problems with academic performance, and now the education department is giving its initial approval to the proposal by the U of R to take over operation of that school. But the state notes that while the city school district requested an extension of the deadline for submitting a plan for East High until February of next year, it wants to see a detailed plan by July 1 of this year.

And in its letter to the city school district this week, the state also said it is requiring a plan from the city school district by the end of July which outlines the improved educational practices that will be in place for the upcoming school year.

State officials also are requiring the city to come up with a backup plan to phase out East High School in case the education commissioner doesn't approve the takeover plan by the U of R.

The state also is leaving open the possibility it will appoint what it calls a "distinguished educator” to be the state's supervisor in this process.

U of R President Joel Seligman released this statement regarding the collaboration:

“Let me thank Commissioner King, Deputy Commissioner Slentz and Assistant Commissioner Schwartz for their letter delineating an extension of the time to provide a plan for an Educational Partnership Organization agreement and guidance on the path forward.    I look forward to working with the School Board, the Superintendent, the bargaining units and the University’s Warner School to achieve full compliance with the terms and conditions of this letter by July 1, 2014.  This is a critical project for the public education in the City of Rochester.  I believe we all are joined in a collective effort to save and strengthen a great high school.  The students, faculty and staff of East High School deserve no less.”

RCSD Supt. Bolgen Vargas issued this statement:

“It is excellent news that the state is providing an opportunity to move forward with plans for the University of Rochester to manage East High School. Having colleges and universities manage some city schools is part of my action plan to improve the District, and I applaud the University of Rochester for stepping forward to help with East. The District will do its part to comply with the state’s requirement and to support the University of Rochester in developing a successful plan.”