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A Better Start

Rochester’s families deserve pre-kindergarten and kindergarten placements that meet their children’s needs. This report is a first step to better understand parents’ enrollment decision-making and how they experience enrollment policies. The goal is to help the Rochester City School District improve existing policies and processes so families have a better experience with enrollment.

Review of the Proposed 2021-2022 Rochester City School District Budget

The recommendations in this report were developed in partnership with students, parents, and community agencies such as the Parent Leadership Advisory Council (PLAC), Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), Bilingual Education Council (BEC), Teens With Attitude, Teen Empowerment, Citizen Action of NY, Alliance for Quality Education, Roc/ACTS, the Community Task Force on School Climate, IBERO American Action League, and many more, as well as those who attended our numerous budget teach-ins and community forums.

Recommendations for use of American Rescue Plan Funds

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a $1.9 billion stimulus plan designed to accelerate our nation’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. It contains a number of measures to provide direct relief to families, e.g. $1,400 stimulus checks to households, extended unemployment benefits and emergency housing assistance, and $5 billion for federal food aid. The pandemic recovery is addressed with $160 billion for vaccine distribution, supplies, emergency response, testing and the public health workforce.

A significant portion of ARPA funds are directed to children and families through provisions that include changes to federal tax credits and increased resources for child care, PreK-12 education, and closing the digital divide.

Community Schools Data Synthesis

A review was done of research and evaluations on community schools throughout the country plus available data on community schools in Rochester. Synthesis of the information can inform development of a community school system. There are varying principles community schools are based on, including collaboration, equity, and a mixed model. Community schools can impact students, teachers, families, communities, and systems. In Rochester the demographics of community schools are, overall, proportionate to the district, but notable variability exists. Current academic outcomes and available staff also vary greatly. Needs assessments indicate priorities for strengthening relationships, supporting social-emotional learning and restorative practices, increasing academic support, meeting basic needs, and engaging families

2020 Policy Brief: Paying the Highest Price

The Rochester City School District (RCSD) is facing unprecedented mid-year reductions in education aid from New York State. These cuts surpass the losses faced by any other school district in Monroe County, and are among the highest of any school district in New York State. The state’s current approach to budget reductions disproportionately targets districts with the highest needs, undermines the purpose of New York State aid to local school districts, and bolsters institutional racism in our community. 

2020 Policy Brief: Reopening Schools

The Children’s Agenda is deeply concerned that school closures are disproportionately harming our most vulnerable children. We believe schools need to reopen safely as soon as possible, but are concerned the politicization of the issue, and the lack of sufficient resources and clear guidelines for schools, is putting reopening—and children’s wellbeing—in jeopardy.

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