Big Step Forward Update


August 17, 2009

 Vision/idea (five years out)

* Spaulding High School – approx. 1000 students – one of the best comprehensive public high

   schools in the state.

* Bud Carlson Academy – approx. 100-150 students – one of the best small alternative schools in

   the state.

* new high school designed for the 21st Century – approx. 400-450 students – one of the best high

   schools in the country.

 Critical indicators (problems/needs – and longer-term goals)

1. average daily attendance

2. discipline/culture

3. drop-out rate

4. percentage of graduates going on to post secondary education, 4-year colleges, successful 1-2

    years later.

5. standardized test scores (PSAT, SAT, NECAP, NWEA, ACT, AP, etc.)


* past 5-6 months (forums, discussions, preliminary research, prospective partnerships/funders,

   site exploration, etc.)

* now through December (nine more public forums – and preparation/completion of full proposal)

* full proposal/report to school board (December/January)

* approval/disapproval process (school board, city council, etc.) – December through spring.

 If approved, the new school would likely open to 100-200 students in the fall of 2012 – and rollout to full capacity (400-450 students) over the following three years – as SHS downsizes to approximately 1000 students.

 New school design elements

1 – integrated curriculum organized around questions/problems.

2 – real/adult world immersion.

3 – more direct, simple, and useful assessment systems.

4 – graduation/diploma when earned (elimination of the 4-year assumption/default).

5 – adaptive, proactive, entrepreneurial organizational structure.

 At the same operating budget (per student) as Spaulding – which is below the state average.

Start-up costs – estimated at $5 to $10 million – with an emphasis on state/federal assistance, foundation support, private contributions.

 Four important convictions

 * We absolutely have to do better for our high school students.

 * Importance of school size.

 * The need for a new approach/model.

 * Benefits/value of school choice – three options rather than one or two.

3 thoughts on “Big Step Forward Update

  1. Mr. Hopkins,

    so really no knew information from the last time this was discussed publicly?…which school board committee is best to attend (or watch on channel 25) for update info?…will public get a chance to have input into what the final outcome will be?…or, will school board simply be rubber stamp for what administration gives them for options?…don’t take that the wrong way, but we all know that could happen…school board is not compelled by anything other than their own ability to vote the way they want to regardless of what other people think…I watched Wash DC mayor on CNN last night talking about their multi-pronged approach to their education woes…I was impressed with his understanding of their problems and how they are approaching the solution(s) – The Chancellor from NYC talks about DC’s choice to head their reforms in this article – Reform, Through the Eyes Of New York’s Chancellor –…”It’s going to take big thinking and big, bold proposals to change it. Small changes aren’t going to do it.”…I’m concerned that Rochester’s school board will never stand up to the teachers union to enact “big thinking and big, bold proposals”…Rochester is certainly not a big inner city school system with all the problems that go along with being a big inner city school system , but in relative terms, Rochester needs to take bold steps to really create that educational system that is a centerpiece to our community…

  2. We plan on having public meetings at the elementary school PTA’s, Middle School parent groups and the High School over the next few months. We will also invite the City Council to meeting.

    We will present an update to the Instruction in September or October. We will be publicizing the meetings on this blog, along with any updates as we move along.

    I believe we have made a bold step in considering this option. I think we have a better chance of seeing this new school become a reality than when we started the project.

    We still need to help everyone in the community understand the concepts, and seek their input on this proposal. I don’t know if the Board will approve this proposal, because it isn’t finished yet. I don’t think anyone can say they are certain to support a proposal until it is finished.

    Thank you for your posting.

  3. Mr. Hopkins – I agree that the choice to consider the second high school was a bold move – I’d like to see more bold moves!…my point was will we follow through?…lots to flush out, but I am definitely in favor of the first steps taken…please read my response to Laura Hainey’s Op-ed in last weeks Rochester Times – – I don’t believe it’s simply a matter of returning to the “old” way of educating that we hear people talk about…our society constantly changes, our economy has certainly changed and our needs for continued prosperity for our country have to be met with an equal realization that our education system must also evolve to meet those needs…it’s very important to watch costs, but not to the detriment of meeting our kids needs…I believe public, private and charter options all have to be on the table, not only as a way to provide the best for our kids, but to naturally keep costs under control…in the end, if people really want what they complain about, then they had better engage!…otherwise we get what other people give us…