Assemblyman proposes bill that, once again, seeks change in Rochester city schools

    Some say the proposed legislation could get in the way of the change the district is proposing to make.

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) - There is a new call for mayoral control of Rochester city schools, and it's coming from Assemblyman David Gantt.

    Gantt is proposing two bills that could change the district's power structure.

    The bills stalled when they were first introduced several years ago. However, this time, the school board and the district are under a new order to change by a state mandated consultant.

    In the meantime, not everyone agrees with the timing of the proposed bills.

    Some say the proposed legislation could get in the way of the change the district is proposing to make. The district's plans were spelled out in a response to the state education commissioner last week.

    As a mother to a little girl, Jamala Ridley says she welcomes new ideas when it comes to change within Rochester city schools.

    "There are a lot of things that I don't approve of within the district, so it's always good to discuss change," Ridley said when asked about the proposed bills.

    Gantt is trying to implement that change within schools.

    Under Bill A2129 , he proposes to take the politics out of the school decision making process.

    The bill states, "it would make the chief executive officer accountable for the management and operations of schools."

    The second piece of legislation, Bill 2569 proposes "eliminating the school board, and giving control of the district to city government."

    "When that was introduced in 2007 - the 4 year graduation rate was 39 percent and now 12 years later about 60 percent," said Van White, Rochester School Board President. "I think that's nothing to celebrate, but progress is important when assessing if change is necessary."

    Van questions the timing of this proposed legislation.

    Mayor Lovely Warren's chief of staff says they are not actively pushing for the bills to pass, but are welcoming change.

    "I do know that now is the time for us to consider something different and so I think the community is going through a process to determine what that something is," said Alex Yudelson, Chief Of Staff for the City of Rochester.

    Last week, the school board submitted their response to the state education commissioner after state appointed consultant sought change within the district.

    "I think we ought to see what happens as a result of that before we take a step and perhaps diminish some of the progress made," White said.

    Under Bill A2129, Gantt proposes the development of policies for the hiring, firing and evaluation of all district employees.

    The head of the teacher's union, Adam Urbanski, does not agree with the idea of mayoral control of city schools.

    "I think those who claim that the problem is the union or the contract are either uninformed they don't really know or are looking for excuses," Urbanski said. "Mayoral control is not the answer. We should not deprive the citizens of Rochester from their right to elect school board members and if they aren't happy they should elect better ones."

    District and city leaders say the next step is to await the state's response on how to best move the district forward.

    13WHAM did reach out to Assemblyman Gantt and as of air time on Monday night did not hear back.

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