Warren on RCSD Community Schools: “It’s an investment that needs to happen.”

Jan 8, 2021

Credit Spectrum News

In the first part of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s State of the City Address released via video Thursday, she expressed support for turning more than two dozen city school district elementary schools into community schools. 

Community schools take many forms, but the common traits include longer hours and more services for students and the surrounding community. Warren’s model is School 17 on Orchard Street, which Warren has lauded in the past, even hosting the 2019 State of the City there

When asked how a cash-strapped city and school district could pay for adding these services, Warren said it's an “investment that needs to happen” and that she’d depend on non profits to pull it off.

“A lot of our not-for-profits are providing services to these very residents but they’re not doing it in schools, so we’d be asking them to provide that support inside the classroom,” said Warren during an interview on Friday. “You’re servicing the family already, just service them where they live and it will be easier for not only them but the community as a whole.”

Warren, who is up for reelection this year, said there are no plans for the city to pay the district more now, but said she’s willing to advocate for funding from other sources.

“You have to have the commitment to do things differently,” said Warren. “It's something that not only I have advocated for but educators have advocated for as well.”

Among those advocates is Shelley Jallow, the state appointed monitor of the Rochester City School District. Jallow made the suggestion to the city school board months ago. 

Another part of Warren’s Equity and Recovery Agenda focuses on funding from legalized marijuana, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has expressed support for. 

If that happens, Warren wants to funnel tax money collected from pot revenue, to pay for a housing trust fund to help low income residents buy homes. She also wants to offer emergency grants for low income Rochesterians. Warren called that “tax fairness.”

“We want to make sure that if the state is going to make revenue off of it that they provide a portion of that revenue to communities and cities that have been impacted the most,” said Warren.

Warren said she’s expressed this sentiment to the state delegation.

She also intends to seek funding from the University of Rochester, citing agreements between universities in Ithaca and Syracuse and those municipalities. 

Warren said the city had conversations with previous UR President Joel Seligman’s administration and would like to engage the current administration, headed by University President Sarah Manglesdorf, in talks.

“We’d love to be able to revisit that,” said Warren. “Since they were able to figure out an arrangement there, we’d like to be able to figure out an arrangement here in Rochester.”

Warren said she does not have a specific dollar figure in mind.