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Rochester City School Board

New York State Education Department

 

Interim New York State Education Commissioner Shannon Tahoe announced Thursday that Rochester had the biggest year-to-year increase in graduation rates among the big five school districts. These numbers are based on August 2019 graduates, which Tahoe said the department bases its metrics on.

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Three busloads of people headed from Rochester to Albany on Tuesday to demand an increase in education funding.

Rochester City School student Maya Adams led a chant,“Whose money! Our Money! Our Schools! Our Schools!” from the well of the state Capitol. She’s part of a group including students, teachers, and Rochester residents hoping to prevent further layoffs in the district. The district laid off about 100 teachers mid-year because of an estimated $65 million budget shortfall.

East High School/Facebook

East High School is honoring leaders of color with the help of local artist Shawn Dunwoody. 

Dunwoody painted public portraits of historical figures like President Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela and 27 others as part of The Legacy Project: The Eyes of Our Ancestors. 

The 10-by-4 portraits are hanging in the school's courtyard on East Main Street. 

Organizers like Dr. James Willis, the director of African and American studies for the Rochester City School District, hope these images can be inspirational for students and the community at large.

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Ernest Flagler-Mitchell is the latest Democrat to throw his hat in the ring for the 137th District State Assembly seat

David Gantt has held the seat for nearly 40 years, but it's not clear if he'll run again. Gantt, 78, is dealing with health concerns and has not yet declared his intentions.

Flagler-Mitchell, 41, is a former firefighter who has been in the Monroe County Legislature for five years. He was just re-elected as assistant minority leader. He also trains future firefighters at East High School.

The Rochester City School District had a turbulent 2019.

Early in the year, it attempted to respond to a state-mandated report that deemed it in dire need of improvement. It was also at the center of a debate regarding a possible state takeover, and a controversy surrounding teacher layoffs to cover the district’s nearly $65 million budget gap.

James Brown covered these stories throughout the year. He and Connections producer Megan Mack discuss those developments, and what we could see in 2020.

After hearing hours of feedback from teachers, students, parents, and other community members Thursday night, members of the Rochester City School Board voted on Superintendent Terry Dade's proposed staff cuts. Those recommendations would have initially impacted more than 150 teachers, but a last-minute change reduced the number of proposed lay-offs to 109 positions.

More then 90 people signed up to speak about the impact of those possible mid-year cuts. The testimonies ranged from emotional pleas to matter-of-fact discussions about budgeting and numbers. And after a break, the board approved the plan in a split vote.

This hour, we're joined by members of the Rochester City School Board to discuss their individual votes, the testimonies they heard for the school communities, and what's next for the district. In studio:

Max Schulte / WXXI News

 

In a split vote, the Rochester City School District Board of Education approved a plan late Thursday night to lay off 155 district employees.

Under the latest plan from Superintendent Terry Dade, teachers will account for 109 of those layoffs, down from a previous proposal to lay off 152 teachers.

Teachers like LeAnna Dupree and Jamie Lillis were among the hundreds of teachers, staff, and community members who protested outside. They were also among 94 people who expressed their displeasure with the cuts during a nearly three-hour public comment period.

“This is an opportunity for redemption," said Dupree. "Mistakes have been made, of course they have, but join us now be a part of our district. Either take responsibility for your roles in the crisis, or take responsibility for saving the teachers and students.”

Courtesy of the live stream from the Rochester City School District, this is the board meeting where teacher layoffs will be discussed and voted on.

Jacob Walsh/CITY Newspaper

Jordan Addison was drawn to teaching because it gave him a chance to be a role model for young people — particularly young people of color.

Addison is black, and at School 22, where he teaches fourth grade, so are 39 percent of the students. Another 56 percent are Latino. He does not need to consult the extensive body of research that shows students of color benefit in ways big and small from having teachers who look like them. Addison can see it.

James Brown/WXXI News

After weeks of protests by students and teachers, the Rochester Board of Education is scheduled to vote Thursday night on a plan to eliminate more than 150 teaching positions in the City School District. 

The mid-year job cuts are part of Superintendent Terry Dade's plans to bridge a nearly $65 million budget gap.

Click on the LISTEN link above to hear an interview with Dade on his controversial proposal.

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