ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Don’t fix what ain’t broken. That was the sentiment echoed by parents and school staff of East High School on Tuesday night.
They voiced their concerns about the partnership between East High and the University of Rochester coming to an end in June of next year.
Hundreds packed a room at East high with parents, teachers, alumni and staff all voicing to the board, “East High saves lives, don’t give up on East.”
“Be tenacious, think purposefully and advocate for yourself and others — this is the mission statement at East,” one student said.
Students say these are not just words but what they live by — and teachers like Kristine Price agree. Price has been teaching English for 24 years at East High School and has seen a lot happen. Multiple fights and daily calls to the police were the norm at East. She says partnering with UR for the past 10 years has transformed the school from failing to flourishing, and would like to see the agreement continue.
“Parents and families will put their kids in charter school, instead of staying in RCSD public schools. So the money that they are worried about paying for the extra cost of East, they are just going to pay out in a check to a charter school,” Price said.
Students like Zara Pyatt-Ramos, a senior at East, say under the partnership the culture at East has become that of a big family. Although she will be graduating, she would like her younger brother to still reap the benefits.
“There’s a lot of people that have been here for years, they come back to East because they love it,” she said. “I think the U of R has brought that out in us.”
Her friend Magalis Garcia is also a senior, advocating for the contract to be extended.
“Sad because it’s not only going to mess up like, teachers’ lives at school, it’s also going to mess up the students coming up to because a lot of things are going to be taken away that we had,” Garcia said.
RCSD Board of Education Cynthia Elliott says the district has to position itself financially with enrollment decreasing.
“The district is in a financial challenge, and we have to look at the future,” Elliott said.
When asked how much money the partnership costs the district, she said it was $2 million to $3 million.
Elliott added the district is looking to cut costs, not programs, and that she appreciates all the hard work from students and staff.
The Board of Education will make a decision in March, and will continue to work on a transition plan.
The following video appeared in the 6 p.m. broadcast:
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