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Parents seek details on RCSD proposal

by Evan White

Rochester, N.Y. -- Coffee and Conversation with the Superintendent is an informal meeting where many issues are brought to the table. Tuesday night, attention turned toward a bold new proposal by Superintendent Bolgen Vargas to have colleges and universities take over struggling city schools. Vargas unveiled an outline of the plan to school board members Monday night. Parents were able to ask questions on Tuesday.

The plan calls for the school district to pay colleges and universities to operate certain schools, even assigning their own superintendent for schools involved. Teachers and staff would remain and all of this would need to be approved by the state, according to the district.

One parent asked if this would start in elementary school or high school, Vargas responded by explaining the reason for doing it, but would not delve into specifics. He considers this the exploratory stage of the plan.

I think new innovative ideas can be helpful, said Lori Bryce, a mother of three district students.

Theyre all doing well in the schools they are in, but there are certainly schools that can use a boost.

Of 9th graders who entered high school in 2007, 45.5 percent graduated high school in four years. The state average is 74 percent.

I'm certainly not proud about the result we are getting today, we have too many students who are leaving the school without a high school diploma, said Vargas.

Mayor-elect Lovely Warren spoke with Vargas briefly last week about his proposal and said she is supportive of it, but she still has her own plan to improve student academic performance.

My plan is still to support charter schools, I think that that is an alternative, said Warren. Its about giving parents choices, however I do believe that our school district needs as much help as it can get. So its not an either or, its an and, the most important thing is that we put our children first.

Vargas would not specify which schools he had in mind other than to say that Monroe Community College could be a perfect match.

MCC declined to comment.

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Washington Times