GREECE, N.Y. (WROC) — The Greece Central School District held a community forum Thursday focused on fostering better community relationships and breaking down barriers for students of color.
Students, parents, members of the school board, county leaders and the Greece Police Department sat in on the community forum, answering direct questions about supporting students, tackling racial barriers and bringing the Greece community together.
The idea for this community panel came after a black lives matter protests focusing on improving the climate for student of color was held in Greece. This is an ongoing challenge in a district where over 90% of teachers are white.
District leaders say to address this disparity, they are working on educating students about career in education, offering incentives for students to work in district, and recruiting more new teachers to the district.
“The idea of bringing in stipends or someway to bring people back to us. That’s a long-term plan that we’re looking at. In addition from a short term perspective, we really worked on changing policy and practices related to hiring,” said Valerie Paine, GCSD assistant superintendent.
Students within the Greece Central School District agree that representation needs to be a focus. They also stressed the need for more help with virtual learning.
“I was way better in person and this virtual stuff,” said Arcadia senior Anthony Stephenson. “I’m getting better at it, but in-person I was on my stuff. That hands-on, I know a lot of kids need that hands-on stuff and when they don’t get it they just get down on themselves.”
Organizations like the Center for Youth, Villa for hope, and the Greece Police Department listed their community services for Greece students – including a health zone school program for emotional support and the Police D.A.R.E. program.
The police department is also focusing on recruiting more people of color for officer positions.
“The reality is, we need a larger pool of people and I think that we as a community services unit and the school resource officers can begin bridging those gaps and building those relations earlier to make law enforcement more attractive,” said Jared Rene, Greece PD Community Services Unit.
The Greece Central School district plans to take what they learned and create outreach programs and events that connect families within the district while showcasing the existing services
The Greece Central School District also has a free parent help line for anyone with questions, the number is 585-966-2911.