News Release --Mayor Warren, City Council to Put School Reform Referendum on November Ballot

City of Rochester

News Release

(Friday, June 7, 2019) – Mayor Lovely A. Warren today announced that she has submitted legislation to the Rochester City Council to put a referendum on the November ballot that asks city voters to support a State Education Department plan to take bold action to reform the Rochester City School District (RCSD).

“To me, the people of Rochester are the ones who should make this decision. They are the ones who send their kids off to school to be educated and obtain a fighting chance at life,” Mayor Warren said. “They should have the power to decide what is next. Who matters most? Our children or those who profit from poverty?”

“I am honored to be here today, to stand with the Mayor and take action to give our community the power to request this change from the State,” said Council President Loretta C. Scott. “A change this large shouldn’t just come from a few, or come from behind closed doors, it should be a decision that is made by all. Having a referendum will put the choice in the hands of our residents, in the hands of our families with children in the schools. Our families should have a say in this decision and I am confident that when our residents voice their choice at the ballot box it will be an even louder call to action than all the experts and elected officials combined.”

If passed, the referendum – titled “Our Children our Future, a Local Law for the City of Rochester” – would call for New York State to assume the operations of the City School District for no less than five years to allow parents, teachers and students to create a more effective governance model for the RCSD.

The decision to call for a referendum follows almost one full year of promising developments regarding school reform that have suddenly come to a halt. In July the State Education Department appointed Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino to evaluate and develop recommendations to improve educational outcomes.

Aquino submitted his report in November and has since been trading questions and responses with the Board of Education. Meanwhile, Mayor Warren said she has had private conversations with State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and members of the State Board of Regents, at which she expressed her support for a State plan to assume operations of the RCSD while a reform model is developed. No further progress has been made on those conversations. Aquino announced his resignation on May 31, effective today.


News media: For more information, contact Press Officer Jessica Alaimo at 428-7135.