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I’m in support of Unions who are interceding and advocating on behalf of the constituents they represent: those working closest to our CHILDREN! These Unions provide the grounding checks/balances of RCSD decisions that may be made hastily, without necessarily thinking of the outcome from the grass-roots level. Teachers are the voice of the children they serve. Too often, their input is not solicited in top down RCSD decisions. Their Union represents their collective voice. I recognize that unions not only advocate for students, but also help elevate and maintain dignity and stability of teachers and support staff.

My prior work experience consists of employment within the districts Office of Public Safety where I served in the capacity of an Investigator from January 2013 – October 2014. These investigations often times involved violations of RCSD rules and regulations, therefore warranting union representation (RTA, ASAR, BENTE, RAP) for said employees and central office administrative staff accused of misconduct. An important factor was to ensure that students rights and needs were not being violated. I would sum up my job description as follows:

  • Perform at most times high level internal investigations regarding central office violations of school policy and NYSED violations at the direction of the Superintendent, General Counsel and the Director of Public Safety.
  • Served on Superintendent’s Steering Committee for Career and Technical Education.

My belief is that the current School Board is equally responsible for the structural deficit. The loss of millions of dollars is a sign of failing to practice Fiscal Responsibility for the district. As Executive Director for RYFC, I oversaw almost a ½ million-dollar annual budget and hope to be of assistance to the board in the area of audit, planning, and budget oversight. Alternative plans should be put in place, both a shift in thinking and long-term planning. My goals would entail taking more proactive steps and measures rather than the present approach that appears to be reactive. In short, we have to stop being totally dependent on the receipt of state aid and grants.

Secondly, In July 2018, New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia appointed Dr. Jaime Aquino as a Distinguished Educator to the Rochester City School District. During the month of November 2018, NYSED released Dr. Aquino’s report, which details 84 recommendations to support and advance District improvements for the Board of Education and District to provide equitable access to high-quality education for all students. Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A Rosa said. “Each and every child in Rochester deserves to have access to a high-quality education. The Board of Regents and I are confident that Dr. Aquino’s plan to improve the education system in Rochester will be a valuable asset for the district and the children it serves.” Based on these finding, and having reviewed Dr. Aquino’s report, I would advocate for further review of the 106 findings and implementation of the plan and its 84 recommendations.

I am aware during the first of the year, that Rochester students, teachers, activists, elected officials, and state and national teacher union representatives rallied recently in Albany for money they say is owed the struggling Rochester City School District — specifically $86 million. I am also aware that said figure is derived from a complex state formula for funding schools known as Foundation Aid.

I’m willing to solicit additional funding from our state legislators. I am not a politician, but willing to learn how to advocate for our district with RTA’s assistance. I do believe to do this we as a district and board must perform, to show that we can be Fiscally Responsible and become independent of the state’s independent monitor, show an increase in on-time graduation rates and graduates as a whole.

My belief is that the district should return to neighborhood schools/Community Schools where both kids and families are provided opportunities to walk to their respective educational institutions to more easily participate in meetings and events, thereby buying into the school as a community partnership and building parent/teacher student relationships i.e., PTA meeting, etc... I would vote to move musically/artistic gifted students back to SOTA & CTE program back to Edison. My belief is that we invest in a campaign to draw kids and parents back toward the district, that we hire the best and brightest educators. Our school system is in crisis, in urgent need of assistance. Being a person of color, my thought is that an educator’s color, race or ethnicity should not take priority above the hiring of the best applicant for the position baring one exception; that the two are equal at the end of the interview process. If I was in need of heart surgery, why would you make an appointment for surgery with a general practitioner and not a cardiac surgeon.

Yes, Charter Schools are siphoning off finances and resources from RCSD. I am also aware of Dr. Shelley Jallow, the State Independent Monitor assigned to oversee the RCSD. Though I will help work toward the acquisition of our independence from Albany, I welcome this oversight and will work diligently with the board, the Superintendent and the state’s monitor on the Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) agreement to accomplish all given task, goals and submission of request within a timely manner.

That all being said, to remedy the drain, my belief is that we make our neighborhood schools desirable to the community for learning and safe to return to. We invest in and professionally market them to the public with a new vison and mission in collaboration with the Superintendent. We demand order and excellence from our students, not just the acceptance of mediocracy through the advancement of new creative and innovative ideas. We must be honest with our parents and students teaching them reality, that to be mediocre is just not good enough in our society! That honesty, integrity, respect and love for one-another are characteristics that must be taught and learned in order for one to be successful in life if not only today’s world.

Finally, Charters provide choice for informed parents. They have become a revolving door for our students as they have a way of skimming off our most gifted, who stays and who goes. We must improve our offerings within RCSD to parallel the choices that parents are seeking. Arts charter schools, EL Schools, Dual Language Schools, All Women Schools, Extended hours, etc.

Charter Schools have become a revolving door for our students as they have a way skimming who stays or goes – often returning our students with the most needs – special education and English Language Learners. We know our kids leave our schools for charters and are always back before the year ends. The money follows them there when they leave us. I’d be interested in researching data to identify if these funds follow our students back to the district.

I would be a major activist in this area. Being a former member of the Division of New York State Police, if it’s one thing that the Division did well was writing and filing reports, compiling data, practicing its fiscal responsibility and auditing itself. Transparency is an important aspect of one’s integrity.

During the current year 2021, and not in any specific order, the most significant issues facing the RCSD would be (1) The budget and its Fiscal Responsibility, (2) Safety of our Children & Safe Return to School, (3) e-learning & Technology for Student learning, Board’s role and micro-management of Superintendent, graduation rates, messages often conflicting, not clear and concise. Though I’ve noted a few issues the one that concerns me most is the failure to listen. To listen to the voice of the teacher who is often the most important voice in the room. The voice of reason, the voice of knowledge of the issue and how to correct it, and most importantly the voice of the student.

Increase of teacher voice in all decision making – even in the form of simple surveys. Teachers know what they need for their students. Increased Principal voices. All schools are different, and Principals must be able to advocate for their specific building needs and be granted some freedoms to meet those needs. Hiring of Intervention support teachers to help meet the gaps/needs of students, especially post pandemic.

Financial Responsibility, Safety of our Children, Advanced Professional Development & Training, significant improvements & steady growth in our students’ graduation rates, state proficiency exams (ELA & Math), on-time graduation rates, literacy program, better HR hiring practices. A separate school for our most difficult students who make classroom learning impossible. Partner with the Department of Health Division of Social Service in hiring additional personnel to service our children with physical, psychological, and emotional needs.

I am also a strong advocate of "Community Schools" that aim to improve student achievement through strong partnerships among student families, community partners and residents, building and district administrators, teachers and other staff.

Increasing/duplicating successful existing volunteering programs (Help me Read)\ Pencil/Paper Project. Unite/mobilize the faith community to increase support for our youth. An unnamed source has been a big advocate of this and has encouraged black churches to do more to shape/tutor/nurture its youth. In 2019, I began a working group with 21 diverse Pastors for the purpose of collaborating on ways to support our community.

Another solution I’d like to discuss the implementation of a program similar to Monroe Community College’s Doorway to Success Program, an initiative where the RCSD would Provide Academic Support, Motivation, And Guidance to Black and Latino males during the students’ acclamation to middle and high school. This study and/or work group would also provide time management, goal setting, and personal development skills instruction, monitor student’s academic progress/achievement (grades, absenteeism and tardiness), and conduct study skills workshops resulting in increased student retention. RIT has a similar program called Men of Color Honor & Ambition (MOCHA), which I believe can be implemented at the secondary education level for the most at-risk population.

It should also be noted that I am a member of the Rochester Businessmen’s Fellowship, a current Member of the Commission on Racial & Structural Equality (RASE) having served on the Mental Health & Addiction Services Work Group, a current Member of United Christian Leadership Ministry (UCLM) Police Reform Proposals Committee, all of which having hundreds of community connections and resources that currently are a benefit to the Greater Rochester Community.

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