In his State of the Schools speech, Rochester City School District Interim Superintendent Bolgen Vargas said he wants schools to be like Wegmans. Parents, students and staff should be treated like customers and be able to get answers to their questions. Vargas said schools should be pleasant places and embody the “Wegmans experience.”
(I’m envisioning students pushing grocery carts filled with books down softly-lighted hallways to the Market Cafe for lunch.)
The RCSD faces a $41 million gap. Vargas plans on using $20 million in reserves. The district is getting an extra $10 million from the state. That leaves $11 million the district will have cut – a very manageable figure.
“We are going to end the annual budget drama,” Vargas said.
Vargas also said he is in talks with the teachers union about extending the school day and year. (That could be very expensive, but staggered staff schedules can help trim costs.) He wants Central Office staff to go into schools and substitute teach.
Vargas is clearly very different from his predecessor, Jean-Claude Brizard. He’s conciliatory and eager to please. It’s hard to see him getting into fights with parents, politicians or teachers.
Is Vargas’ kindness a weakness? Can he translate his goals into action? Will he be given time to try? Those are questions the school board will be asking as it decides whether to give Vargas the permanent job.
Vargas has set the bar high. Wegmans ranks as one of the top companies for employees and its motto is, “Every day you get our best.”
Other items of note:
– The RCSD shared its graduation rate projections. The news is not good.
– Governor Andrew Cuomo is stopping in Buffalo Wednesdsay. When is he visiting Rochester? There are some reporters who’d like to pepper him questions about Buffalo’s billion, Kodak, Rochester’s state aid disparity and other issues.
– Buffalo’s city council passed new food truck rules. The regulations permit the trucks to operate more freely. Alas, Rochester pretty much bans all food trucks, except at festivals and on private property.
– Syracuse is worried about losing the Golden Snowball to Binghamton. Buffalo and Rochester are essentially tied for third place.