Warren praises Cuomo proposal for a new 'monitor' for the city school district

Jan 22, 2020

Credit Brett Dahlberg / WXXI News

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says she’s grateful that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing legislation that would create a monitor to help oversee the city school district.

Cuomo made a proposal in the budget plan he released this week for a monitor who would help oversee both the finances and an academic plan for Rochester schools. The monitor would be appointed by the New York State Education Commissioner and the mayor.

Warren likes the proposal because she said it would give the new monitor more authority in helping make policy for the district. She said the previous involvement by the state, a distinguished educator, did not give that person the authority to make those changes, even though he developed what Warren feels was a solid plan.

"He put forth a bold action plan, talked about the issues, talked about what needed to be done in order to set this district on the right course, and he was ignored," Warren said.

But Rochester School Board President Van White said the state education department praised the plan that the distinguished educator came up with. And White says the district is making progress, following through with that plan, and he feels having an outside monitor develop another academic plan would be a bad idea.

"This is the kind of change that this community was calling for, this is the kind of change, that this community is getting; and to create yet another plan, with another set of people with another set of ideas when you’re already moving in the right direction… would be counter-productive," White said.

The proposal from the governor’s office would also allow the mayor to have more input in terms of financial oversight of the city school district.

The city school district is currently facing a more than $60 million funding gap. White says that is partly due to the school board not getting good information from the district’s chief financial officer last year. He called for a change in state law that would give the school board better more oversight concerning the chief financial officer position.

Warren said the bottom line is she wants the state to help put someone in place who can give students what they deserve in terms of a quality education, and a fiscal situation that doesn’t cause the district to have to scramble to make budget cuts midway through the school year.