Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren and City Council President Loretta Scott sent a letter to the State Legislature today, slamming the first phase of the $1.2 billion modernization project in the Rochester school district. And they say they are opposed to the Assembly bill seeking $435 million to begin the project's second phase.
The letter says that there are serious concerns about broken timetables, the handling of funds, and other aspects of the project's first phase. And Warren and Scott say that their recommendations for changes to the draft bill for the second phase were ignored. "Instead, the bill was filed without her [Warren's] knowledge," the letter says.
The letter also says that the bill should prohibit former members of the Rochester Joint Schools Construction Board, the organization charged with oversight of the project, from assuming the role of executive director and advisory staff for at least two years after they resign or are replaced. And the bill should prohibit money from the second phase of the project being used for cost overruns on the first phase, the letter says.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle's letter responding to Warren and Scott is attached at the bottom of this post.
The schools construction project, considered the largest in the city's history, has been fraught with delays from its inception, much of it occurring during multiple changes of superintendents and mayors. Last month, Warren confirmed that the FBI is investigating some of aspects of the first phase of the project, and that she has reservations about moving forward.
Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas and the Rochester school board have urged that funding for the second phase of the project move forward; stating that delays would cause serious problems
. But State Assembly member David Gantt has stated that he will not support the bill while the FBI investigation is under way. Gantt led passage of the bill through the Legislature for the first phase of the project.