After a lengthy discussion the Rochester City Board decided not to vote on Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard’s plan to close two elementary schools.
The schools were slated to be closed because of what Brizard called declining enrollment and poor academic performance. Ultimately the board decided it needed more time before making a decision on whether or not schools number 2 and 6 should be closed.
An alternative motion was made to require the Superintendent to meet with staff at the two schools to get input on the closing and discuss possible alternatives. This motion passed 5 to 1, with Commissioner Jose Cruz voting no and Commissioner Van White absent. The board is expected to up the issue again next month. The delay followed a passionate plea from those connected to both schools.
"I want everyone here to think how it feels to be a kid and hear your school's being closed out," said Dianajha Fulton.
Students, Parents, and teachers at two Rochester elementary schools asked the school board to save their schools.
"Number two school is not just a building it’s a home for my children," said Selina Williams.
During a presentation entitled "Modernizing Rochester's School Facilities" superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard said he wasn't picking on schools 2 and 6.
"This was done objectively," Brizard said.
He said these two schools not only had a great deal of unused building space they consistently struggled academically. Brizard said the district's enrollment fell by six thousand students since 2008 and that some rightsizing and upgrading needed to take place.
"This is going to be a win-win for everyone. We know it’s painful to have to move nobody wants to move but the flip side is actually quite positive for our kids," said Brizard.
Despite the superintendent's positive message some say it’s a move that simply doesn't add up.
"So As a child living in this community who is a stepper, a safety patrol member, a music player, a chorus member a lunch monitor I don't want you to close my school," Fulton said.
If these schools are indeed closed the students there would be reassigned to others in the district through a school selection process one the students do have a say in. Brizard warned the school board the modernization plan needs to be submitted to State Officials in Albany in the near future.