Is the Magnet School the right way for Rochester...many have asked : Save Our Students Blog

Is the Magnet School the right way for Rochester...many have asked

by Susan O'Connor on 01/03/12

For many who are not familiar with the concept of a Magnet School in general and then the concept of a Magnet School in Rochester, hopefully this article will answer a number of questions that have not been forthcoming. First and foremost understand that we are 100% for improving the education of all children in the Rochester School District, we are totally at a loss as to how a magnet school will do that.




The idea of a Magnet school, as many recall, came during the late 1960s and early 1970s as a way to further academic desegregation.  Magnets offered a distinctive curriculum or instructional approach such as math-science or performing arts programs of special instructional approaches, in this case the Personalized Learning Plan. These magnet schools attract students from outside an assigned neighborhood attendance zone. They have diversity as an explicit purpose.


The Magnet school that is being proposed by the Rochester School District, although sounds nice in theory, has turned the tables of time from being a concept to desegregate inner city schools, to a school that will now segregate special needs students. Much has changed over the years and those with special needs, actually have more laws protecting them than a typical student.




When the Magnet school was presented, as a community, we were lead to believe that the school - Should have a minimum of 200 days. Our elementary school children now go 180 days a year or 945 hours of “instruction” time.




- Have students from Kindergarten through Grade 5. Currently, Maple St School is an “underpopulated school” having only 57 students (K-3) and the special education ratio needs to be diluted (presently over 30%).




- Have a specific curricular focus, have enhanced technology available to all students, require significant parental involvement.




A number of important ideas for the Magnet school mentioned during parent information meetings that somehow turned into “focus groups” was science/math/technology, starting a foreign language. I attended those meetings and was surprised at home many parents did not want to see Everyday Math taught there.  The so-called price tag was $60,000. This amount represented salary payments for the teachers at Maple Street School for the additional 20 instructional days.




Now that we have had the development of a “steering committee,” to bring this to fruition, a number of negatives have come to the surface.   




On the positive:

*          Parental involvement will be mandated.

*          The school year will go 200 days.




On the negative:

*          The curriculum has not changed. It is the same as in every other elementary school in the district other than students will receive 15 minutes of French instruction several times a week.




*          The schedule will be the same, 90 minutes of reading, 90 minutes of “Everyday Math.” Then somewhere along the line there will be spelling, science and social studies - areas that our schools are severely deficient in.




*          The district needs to hire a part-time French instructor, part-time PE, music, art instructor at an unknown cost.




*          Along with the original $60,000 for carry-over salaries, we will have new additional salaries at an unknown cost.




*          The building will need at a minimum of $50,000 worth of renovations to make a classroom for grade 4. Grade 5 will be next year, again at an unknown cost. This figure comes from the Space Study.




*          There is the added expense for air conditioners for several classrooms. One has to question the possible cost needed for rewiring which may be needed to support such a draw on the system. Also, the added increased electric bills.




*          Paying for busing for those 20 days and opposite school vacations.  State law (RSA 189:9) states that transportation MUST be provided for the school year. To the best of my knowledge it does not state that the school year is defined as being 180 days. This district opted to increase the school year for this individual school to 200 days. We are legally obligated to provide transportation.  Is now truly the right time to put additional expenses on the back of the taxpayers?




*          Has there been any feedback from other teachers in this district regarding this “wonderful” plan, anonymous or otherwise?




*          Are not all students in this City just as important as the few who will be attending the Magnet school?




*          There will be no state money for years to come with regard to building aide and there will definitely be no state money for a Magnet school. This will be the responsibility of the taxpayer.




*          A Personalized Learning Plan (PLP) will need to be developed for every student. This is not an “idea” specific to the Magnet school. This will be a requirement coming from the state.  Currently the district has difficulty writing Individual Education Plans (IEPs) that are specific to a student’s needs, how are they ever going to accomplish writing a PLP for everybody?




*          It has always been stated that this school must stay open because of the population it serves and the needs of the neighborhood. How will this be achieved? All students in

Maple Street
will have their “home school” reassigned, thus negating the need for this school.





*          Depending on their address they will be assigned to William Allen or McClelland. Both of these schools are designated Schools In Need of Improvement (SINI). Maple Street is not a SINI due to the low enrollment. It has been stated that as a district we are providing an education and excluding students will not be an issue. We believe it will be.




*          Any school classified as a SINI, Special Education (SPED) parents are notified of that status and by law will be allowed to choose another school if they wish. If

Maple Street
parents want to send their children back to
Maple Street
, will they be allowed to as mandated by law or will they be denied?





*          This is a public school building, maintained by taxpayer funds and to think that a student could be denied entry because of a disability amounts to segregation. We have gone from segregating blacks and whites in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s to segregating our children with disabilities.




*          Although the original concept was a wonderful idea, that idea never came to fruition. There will be one school attending classes for 20 extra days doing the same thing as every other school in the district, but at a much higher price tag.  






Comments (2)

1. Concerned citizen said on 10/30/12 - 07:01AM
Could you please list your education and credentials so readers can know what part of your background has prepared you for these roles in public education?
2. Another Concerned Citizen said on 6/15/14 - 05:07PM
I LOVE the fact that you boast your company is the best thing for parents when Mrs. O'Connor's note is filled with spelling and grammar mistakes. Sounds like she needs to go back to elementary school.

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