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Credit: University of Rochester

Credit: University of Rochester

Guidance counselors and principals in the Rochester City School District no longer have the power to change student schedules. They first have to get permission from Central Office.

The rule was spelled out in two memos, one to principals and one to principals, registrars and guidance counselors. The goal is to maximize efficiency and make sure there are not classes with too few students. The district is also trying to weed out no-shows, which impacts its graduation rate.

The district calls this process ‘True-Up.” It has already reduced three teaching positions in elementary schools. But high schools are more complicated. Students take multiple classes and each has unique needs. But the district locked all schedules after September 16.

Here’s an excerpt from a memo:

Starting September 17th, student schedule changes can only be made by  registrars, with approval from the Acting Executive Director of Student Placement. To change schedules after Sept. 16th, counselors or principals should send the student’s name, ID number, schedule change needed and reason for the change. Reasons that will be considered are:

  • New students who are placed incorrectly (provide a full explanation of the placement issues)

  • IEP changes

  • Safety concerns

The district admits in its memo it does not expect major staffing reductions because of this process. If that’s the case, why alienate principals and guidance counselors, who feel incredibly disrespected? Assuming there’s a lag time in approving schedule changes, why force students to wait for approval, instead of granting immediate changes when necessary? Why make students and teachers who may fear for their safety wait?  Why must students spend even one more day in a class that may not be appropriate?

Most importantly, why doesn’t Central Office trust the principals, registrars and guidance counselors – the people trained on schedules at their school and the people who know their students best – to make these fundamental decisions?

Ironically, Superintendent Bolgen Vargas is a former guidance counselor.

(Full disclosure: My mother is a retired RCSD guidance counselor.)

Links of the Day:


– More evidence the teacher evaluation system is ridiculously flawed: Rochester’s highest-rated high school has no highly-rated teachers.

– What a mess. Cuomo hasn’t signed teacher evaluation modification bill, so districts don’t know which rules to follow.

The Cuomo administration edited and delayed a key fracking study.

– The Seneca County Amish do not want a casino nearby.

– A DEA agent created a fake Facebook page using an Upstate woman’s photos. And the feds this is totally okay.

– Here’s why you might want to vote no in November on school technology bonding.

Two Western New York bikers were shot in the back of the head and their gang won’t help police.

– Upstate New York is getting into bikeshares.

– Key line: ‘This study does not link any of these hands-free systems to an increase in car accidents —  the science is not there yet.”


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2 Responses to Cutting Out Counselors

  1. October 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm theodore kumlander responds:

    All schedule changes going thru Central Office is because The Very Serious people at C.O. have to do something for all the money they are making, and it makes them feel so good to make decisions. After all they are Executives you know.

  2. October 7, 2014 at 7:27 pm Susan Barnhart responds:

    Central Office is usurping the authority of principals to grant transfer credits, and assess incoming transcripts of new entrants in deciding on the student schedule. A video class, for example, may substitute for an English credit. This is a principal’s prerogative on NYSED.gov.. not that of a central office bureaucrat to make scheduling decisions. It is the counselor who meets with the principal and discusses options.

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