RCSD Superintendent Bolgen Vargas announces plan to possibly close schools

Posted at: 11/01/2012 6:22 PM
Updated at: 11/01/2012 11:47 PM
By: Lynette Adams

Faced with declining enrollment and too much space, Rochester City School District Superintendent Dr. Bolgen Vargas says it makes sense for the district to look at ways to cut costs and improve efficiency. The superintendent is proposing a $625 million dollar master plan that aims to put more money into the classroom rather than aging buildings.

Thursday Night, Vargas presented an overview of the master plan, preferring not to give too many specific details until he's had the opportunity to talk with the community, especially since it could mean closing some schools.  He is recommending the closure of 5 school buildings. The master plan calls for as many as 8.

Vargas isn't wasting any time though. He says he will begin talking with parents, educators and students on Friday morning. He will pitch the district's master plan that could, over 10 years, change the configuration of the district.

"It's extremely important that the community plays a role on the discussion," says Vargas. "After all, these are their buildings, this is not the superintendent's schools. The schools belong to the community and the families."

Vargas wants people to remember this is about better educating children.  He says the district needs more modern facilities to do that. School Board President Malik Evans says closing schools will not be easy, but it may be necessary.

"I think the tough part for us is how we do prioritize and decide which school will be closed," says Evans. "Neighborhood impact is important, the performance of schools is something to me. Looking at that in terms of school closure but again it's something the board will be discussing over the next three months."

The schools that could be affected include Dr. Walter Cooper Academy (no. 10), John Walton Spencer (no. 16), Lincoln (no. 22), Nathaniel Hawthorne (no. 25), and Henry W. Longfellow (no. 36).