Updated 02/06/2013 10:43 PM
RCSD Presents 'State of Our Schools' Address
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Vargas put it very simply: the district needs to be more efficient with the money they have. His goal over the next five years is to make neighborhood schools a place of choice for parents.
Vargas covered a lot of ground, including improving attendance, increasing sports and after-school activities, and having all students at the appropriate reading level by the third grade.
He wants to increase the length of the school day, saying students in city schools receive the least amount of instruction in Monroe County. He used an Irondequoit school as an example. He said it receives an average of three extra weeks of learning compared to the city schools.
The district will also be implementing a new statewide common core curriculum next year but Vargas says a learning curve is to be expected.
"Common sense tells us that if our children are required now to have a Regents diploma and a year ago they were able to graduate with a local diploma, now it's much harder to graduate from high school than it used to be' therefore, you could expect our graduation rate to decline," said Vargas.
"You cannot teach children who are not at school, and that's what we've been talking about for years as a teachers union: we can't be held responsible for students that aren't in the classroom and that seems to be what's going on and this superintendent recognizes that and I applaud him for that," said John Pavone, Rochester Teachers Association.
With a 48 percent graduation rate, the district is working to evaluate teachers based on the performance of the students who are attending class on a regular basis.
Vargas also reiterated the need to have the state provide funding to transport students living within a mile and a half of their school, so parents don't enroll their children in a school outside their neighborhood.
Vargas says reducing the district's sixty million dollar transportation costs will put a dent in the budget gap.