School District Superintendents Meet to Discuss Planning for Integrated Crossdistrict Magnet Schools

More than a dozen Monroe County school superintendents representing the east and west side BOCES, Rochester City School District, and several suburban school districts have met twice with Great Schools for All since the beginning of 2022 to explore issues related to the possible creation of one or more pilot integrated public magnet schools. Such schools would be intentionally socioeconomically and racially diverse and draw students from both city and suburban school districts.

Subsequent meetings will discuss issues including, but not limited to:

  • Governance and oversight of such magnet schools
  • Financing to ensure equitable funding for all participating districts
  • Determination of the number, types, and location of initial pilot school(s)
  • Student selection process
  • Staffing and sharing of resources
  • Transportation, and
  • Determination of any legislation that may be needed to create such schools

It is anticipated that a second phase of this planning process would include parents, students, teachers, administrators, and other school employees, as well as others in the larger community, in identifying the key components or pillars of specific proposed pilot magnet school(s). Our local NYS legislators have indicated their interest in collaborating in the process of crafting any needed legislation.

With the generous support of a small foundation at Rochester Area Community Foundation, initial discussions are underway to engage an experienced independent facilitator to help guide the planning process going forward.

Discussions and plans to date have been consistent with findings and recommendations outlined in a 2021 report by the Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe global law firm, which specializes in conducting independent, objective research on education and integration issues. The Orrick report strongly endorsed integrated crossdistrict magnet schools in Monroe County as practical and “a realistic, feasible and viable option likely to improve educational outcomes and long-term success” among its students. The report also identified types of legislation that may be needed to develop and implement such schools and outlined a two-phase planning process to address key issues and implement and test the impact of one or more pilot magnet schools.

Great Schools for All has proposed the creation of a network of voluntary integrated magnet schools offering unique educational opportunities not currently available to either city or suburban students. Such schools have been successfully implemented in other communities throughout the country. Decades of research have shown unequivocally that such integrated schools can dramatically improve the odds of academic progress and graduation, as well as improving critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and readiness for future college and work. More recent research documents positive long-term outcomes well into adulthood among students enrolled in such integrated schools.

More to follow as decisions are made in the coming weeks and months.

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Countywide Survey Shows Support for Creation of Crossdistrict Magnet Schools

A recent Siena College Research Institute poll of Monroe County residents indicates strong support for the establishment of magnet schools with specialized curricula that would draw students from both urban and suburban schools.  As indicated in the graphs below, 75 percent of all respondents support the creation of such schools.  Support was consistently strong across racial/ethnic groups and across both city and suburban residents.

The Siena College poll was commissioned by the Rochester Area Community Foundation and the Democrat and Chronicle.  It was conducted during this past December and early January, with 707 county residents, reflecting the demographic makeup of the county population.  The poll has a margin of error of +/- 4.7 percent.

The graphs, created by Kate Nelligan, were published by the Democrat and Chronicle on April 5, 2022.

Kate Nelligan's "Establishing New Schools" graphic from the Democrat and Chronicle on April 5, 2022.