Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Urban-Suburban Program (Updated November 4)
The Rush-Henrietta Central School District Board of Education is considering participating in the Urban-Suburban Inter-District Transfer Program. The district held a community forum about this topic at the Board of Education meeting on October 25. A vote is scheduled for November 8. The district asked residents to submit questions regarding the program. Here are the answers to the most frequently asked of those questions.
Q: What are the eligibility criteria for students and families to enroll in the program?
A:Before enrolling in a suburban district, families must apply to the Urban-Suburban program and meet with program officials in order to be accepted into the program. Each year the district will determine how many spaces it has available for new Urban-Suburban students. The principal of the receiving school reviews student applications and academic, behavioral, and attendance records, and teacher and counselor recommendations, and then selects and interviews prospective students and their families. After the interviews, the principal makes the decision of which students to enroll.
Q: What happens if students misbehave while in Rush-Henrietta?
A: Families who apply to the program tend to be more involved in their children’s education and are interested in a high-quality education experience. However, should an issue arise, in addition to being subject to our district’s Code of Conduct, students would have to comply with the Urban-Suburban’s academic, attendance, and behavioral agreement. Violations can result in immediate expulsion from the program, without the level of due process (such as superintendent’s hearings) that is required to suspend or expel resident students.
Q: How many students is Rush-Henrietta planning to enroll? Won’t these students increase our class sizes and take resources and opportunities from resident students?
A: The proposal the Board of Education is considering would enroll three to five students per year at 7th grade for the first years of the program, with a target total district enrollment of between 15 and 20 students after five years. Enrollment will be based on available space. Right now, we anticipate having sufficient space at Roth Junior High School and the Senior High School to absorb students without exceeding board class-size guidelines or adding class sections and teaching positions. Urban-Suburban students have the same opportunities as resident student, and they have the same impact on resident students as any child who moves into the district.
Q: How will the district pay for these students? Will this increase district taxes?
A: The district’s budget and taxes would not be affected by this program. Suburban districts participating in the program receive state aid for each Urban-Suburban student. The students present no incremental program cost, because they are filling empty seats in existing classes with teachers who are already employed. In addition, the city school district typically covers the cost of student transportation, just as Rush-Henrietta transports our resident students who attend parochial or charter schools. Generally, students who are enrolled in more costly special programs are not enrolled in Urban-Suburban.
Q: How would Rush-Henrietta benefit by participating in the program?
A: The primary benefit is the fulfillment of the Board of Education’s commitment to offer a high-quality educational experience in a diverse school environment to students who are economically disadvantaged and may not otherwise have such an opportunity. Participation in the program would represent Rush-Henrietta’s support for regional efforts to expand educational opportunities and reduce the concentration of poverty in Rochester’s schools. We are the only east-side district not participating in the program. Rush-Henrietta students may also benefit from interacting with highly motivated students whose circumstances and living situations may be different from their own.
Q: Doesn’t Urban-Suburban hurt city schools by enrolling their most capable students?
A: While it is true that Urban-Suburban applicants tend to be higher achievers, have stronger family support systems, and have few special learning needs, increasingly the families who apply to Urban-Suburban also are applying to charter schools and not attending or planning to attend city schools. Districts that are enrolling these students are often impacting the charter schools, because these students typically would not otherwise be attending city schools, especially at the secondary level where Rush-Henrietta is considering enrolling new students. Urban-Suburban offers city students a comprehensive public educational alternative to charter schools, and in a more diverse setting.
Q: Is Urban-Suburban a way for districts to "recruit" talented athletes from the city to attend suburban schools?
A: The criteria for student enrollment in the program are academics, attendance, conduct, and student/family commitment to the program. A student’s athletic ability is not taken into consideration. Student applications do include information on their extracurricular involvement, and a well-rounded student experience is often an indicator that the student will be successful in school. Once Urban-Suburban students are enrolled, they become students of the suburban district and are treated just like any other student. Thus, they are entitled to participate in clubs and activities, including music and sports, and are also held to the same accountability for the district’s eligibility requirements.