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Community weighs in on East's future

Rochester, N.Y. -- The Rochester City School Board heard from the community for the first time Thursday night about the future of East High School.

The state education department said changes must be made to the school because of poor performance.

"We need East to stay East," said parent Karen Fox.

The need to keep the high school open was a sentiment echoed by the majority of the people who spoke to the board.

"I am very proud to be a part of the East High School family," said Juliana Canales, a junior at East. "We've got teachers here that know everything about us. When we come in the classroom, just by looking at your face, they know if you've been having a bad day."

Suggestions of changes that could be made to the school were also presented to the board.

"The other thing we need to stop is social promotion," said Dan Vega, a retired school counselor. "A student can fail seventh grade and eighth grade and be placed in ninth grade."

Students made suggestions as well, asking for more bilingual teachers and programs to be brought back.

Others asked for changes to be made beyond the high school.

"We keep East High school and get rid of the board and the superintendent," said Yvette Singletary, grandmother of children in the district.

The school board has until mid-May to choose whether to close the school, phase out the school and replace it with a new school, enter a contract with an educational partnership organization (EPO), convert to a charter school, or allow a SUNY school to take over.

Proposals from potential EPOs, colleges and universities are due to the district by April 16. Those will be considered by the school board along with a contingency plan from Superintendent Bolgen Vargas. The board is also talking with community organizations about the possibility of developing a collaborative plan.

The board will select a plan from one of these options and submit it to the state by May 15.

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Washington Times