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Gantt submits legislation to give Mayor Warren control of Rochester schools

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Legislation in the state Assembly would give Mayor Warren the power to take over the school district.

Assemblyman David Gantt has introduced legislation that would hand over control of Rochester city schools to Mayor Lovely Warren.

This comes as the district searches for a new superintendent and a special educator issued a scathing report on the district’s operation.

A major piece of the proposal would enable the mayor to remove the current school board members and replace them with members appointed by the mayor herself.

The same bill has been submitted in recent years but has not made its way through the Legislature.

Van White, the President of the Board of Education for the Rochester City School District, says the Gantt legislation is nothing new. It’s been submitted every year since 2007. It has come up again as the district searches for a new superintendent, and a special educator issued a scathing report on the district’s operation.

White says, “I think it’s submitted out of frustration. There was a concern that the district was not performing the way it needed to.”

Looking at an overall picture, Van White says the 2007 graduation rate was 39 percent. In 2018, 59.3 percent graduated. A noticeable trend. His question is why implement this legislation now with steady strides forward.

But he understands why concerns still exist, especially with Dr. Jaime Acquino’s distinguished educator’s report, which found over 100 issues impacting the progress of students. It’s something he says the district responded to with a detailed action plan.

“Let those recommendations and how we responded play out. We should continue to watch our graduation rate go up, and I think at that time, if people aren’t satisfied at those changes, then perhaps Assembly Man Gantt’s legislation should be considered,” says White. 

He says the solution to all of this is not one Superman or one Wonder Woman coming in to save the day. It’s a steady team effort, and he feels the school district will get there. “And if you want to know, look at where we’re at, as compared to where we were.”

White says he’s betting on continued progress, with next years graduation rate at over 60 percent. 

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