Superintendent Vargas Publishes Transition Document

FOR RELEASE:                                                                        
Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Contact: Laurie Buckley


In his last week as Superintendent, Bolgen Vargas, Ed.D., has published a report, Maintaining District Priorities, with recommendations to support the transition in leadership in the Rochester City School District. The document addresses the challenges, opportunities and recommendations for management of the Rochester City School District, drawing from the experiences of Dr. Vargas, who led the District from May 2011 through December 2015.

Since the Rochester Board of Education has announced its intent to pursue the priorities and direction developed during Dr. Vargas’ tenure, this report will benefit future leaders in the District and community members. Under the leadership of Dr. Vargas, the District developed an Action Plan that describes key steps to drive progress in each of the five priority areas—student achievement and growth; effective and efficient allocation of resources; parent, family and community involvement; communication and customer service; and management systems.

Along with accomplishments over the last four and a half years, the document gives recommendations for specific actions that should be taken in 2016 and longer-term recommendations for advancing the District’s priorities.  

Key recommendations include:

·        Maintain a strong focus on shifting resources to students and classrooms through a range of actions, including reductions in Central Office and administrative costs to be in line with similar districts, with a total potential savings of $53-86 million.

·        Establish an Office of Public Integrity covering all employees and vendors or potential vendors of the District. The Vargas administration uncovered and ended a variety of wasteful and unethical practices, such as providing health insurance to ineligible employees, some of whom had died. With an annual budget of more than $800 million, a vigilant watchdog role needs to be permanently established—as the City and County have done—to ensure resources are directed where they are most needed to support student learning.

·        Complete a review of the District’s alternative programs to ensure that students are placed in settings that serve their needs. Address the needs of students with significant emotional and mental-health challenges by collaborating with an established, approved private “853 Program” like the Stanley G. Falk School in Buffalo.

·        Maintain financial sustainability by closing one school building a year until the quality of city schools improves to a level that stops the annual drop in enrollment. For 2016-17, the decision to close a school must be made by February.

·        Whatever course the state sets with regard to teacher and administrator evaluations, maintain a District-level focus on continuous improvement through rigorous performance evaluations at all levels and for all employees throughout the system.

·        Continue outreach to families to support daily attendance, proper behavior and academic achievement through course completion and reading at home.

·        Continue to address summer learning loss through work with community partners to provide expanded summer learning opportunities to 15,000 students in summer 2016.

·        Expand the summer jobs program that employed more than 140 students in 2015 to employ 500 students in summer 2016.