ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- East School administrators, parents and community members met Tuesday night to discuss how the school is doing since the University of Rochester became the Educational Partnership Organization to oversee the failing school.
Even though it’s early in the school year, administrators said they’ve already seen progress, but admit they still have a ways to go.
Tuesday night’s meeting, held under the Education Transformation Act of 2015, covered how the school is doing now and future improvement plans.
Since the doors opened on September 8, UR East EPO Superintendent Shaun Nelms said the lower school, grades 6 through 8, have a 94 percent attendance rate and the upper school, grades 9 through 12, have an 80 percent attendance rate.
The goal for both is 90 percent.
Nelms said he believes many of those who aren’t attending in upper class are those who are overage and under credited.
“Our job as EPO is to do everything in our power to make sure we get them here,” Nelms said. “For some students it may not be a graduation plan, it may be a GED plan. For others it may be preparing them for middle-skills job that are available here in the community. It’s really important to us to that we provide multiple opportunities for students to reengage in the school setting.”
During the school day, lower school students are seeing more ELA and math time and the freshman academy has double periods in ELA and math. What seems to be one of the most successful implementations however, is time set aside called “Family Group.” 10 students are grouped with one adult. It’s intended to give children a sense of empowerment.
"They're talking about their social and emotional growth,” parent Erin Skye-Moore said. “It's confidential, but then also it helps kids get a voice where they might not have a voice."
Skye-Moore expressed her satisfaction in the school. She said she’s already seen a difference in her daughter since last school year.
"She comes home and she's happy to talk about her day, whereas last year she struggled with it,” Skye-Moore said. “There were a lot of things going on. This year she really enjoys school. She has good days."
Although it will take time to see if the EPO improves East High, Skye-Moore and Helms both have confidence it will.
“I’m excited about the progress thus far,” Nelms said. “None of us chose to be here because it was going to be easy. The hours are long, the rest is few, but I think the investment will pay long term dividends.”
Nelms also said he’s noticed a lot of community support, whether it be through academics or sports.
This is one of the goals of the EPO.
The next meeting is for the Family and Community Engagement team, or FACE, which is one of the teams helping to lead this effort.
That meeting will be held on October 21 at 5 p.m. at the Metals Cafe in the school.