History of the Children's School of Rochester
The Children’s School of Rochester opened its doors to students in September of 1991, following one year of intensive planning. The school is rooted in the far-reaching educational reform and restructuring movement in the Rochester City Schools. The Children’s School of Rochester is the first public school in the county initiated by a group of teachers (Sharon Christman, Miriam Thomas, and Valerie Clark) and an administrator (Edward Witaszek) on the site level, rather than through a Central Office or administrative directive. The National Center on Education and the Economy said, “The school is a perfect example of educational innovation and the ‘ultimate statement’ on behalf of school reform.” The school enrolls about 300 students, PreK-6. Enrollment is open to any child in the City School District, and placement is confirmed by the District’s placement policy. Special procedures are in place to recruit students who are not yet proficient in English. The District’s Language Assessment and Placement Center places these “English language learners”. The Children’s School is a community school open to children from all neighborhoods. Residence in the vicinity of the school, however, does not guarantee a place in the school. The student population – racially, ethnically, and economically – reflects the demography of the city. Approximately half of the students are English language learners and speak a language in addition to English.
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Over 36 different language groups have been represented at various times in the school including: Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Dari, Farsi, French, German, Gio, Greek, Haitian, Khmer, Korean, Krahn, Lao, Russian, Serbo Croation, Somalian, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinyan, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese. The Children’s School was created with the goal of developing a structure fundamentally altered to produce much higher quality education without incurring commensurately greater costs. The school was one of six District schools that operated as “pilot budget” schools. The pilot aimed to promote equity and flexibility in school budgeting. The Children’s School received no exceptional funding from the School District.