Lawrence Jones' letter ("Achievement's not a Small Issue," February 16) expresses skepticism of the City School District's ability to move high-quality schools, terming this a "convenient assumption." In fact, the district possesses an enviable history of doing so. In the past decade alone:

            1) "Old" School 56 (in the basement of Franklin) was successfully moved to become "new" School 57 on Costar Street.

            2) "Old" School 57 is now the highly successful School 20, on Oakman Street.

            3)"Old" Children's School 55 (at St. Ann) successfully transitioned to "new" Children's School 15, on Averill Avenue.

            4) "Old" School Without Walls was on Andrews Street and now has a lovely new building on Broadway.

            5)"Old" School of the Arts was in the back of Monroe High School (where School 15 is currently located), and now has one of our area's most beautiful and stunning buildings, on University Avenue. (A recent national report ranked SOTA 11th among all US high schools; evidently this move didn't hurt much, either.)

            As important, there have been no instances where the moving of a high performing school was not successful; this has been consistently in the right direction. This is why we can be confident in moving School 25 and Flower City School 54. These are great schools that deserve to and shall continue on their respective missions.

            The school district staff has been in continuous contact with Buffalo and Syracuse staff; we're all pretty much in the same boat and are trying to learn from one another. It turns out we are the envy of Syracuse and Buffalo for our uncanny knack in successfully moving great schools. So mark the issue of moving great schools as a Rochester school district "Underrated Hall-o'-Famer" achievement (like so many unnoticed quality schools and programs), one that will matter even more in the coming years.

            Andrew MacGowan III, Rochester City School District Department of Research, Evaluation, and Testing


In the 1950s and '60s, ripping up historic Corn Hill was considered a boon because it allegedly opened up the city to faster-flowing traffic. Consider what has happened since. Calls are being heard today for ripping out most of the Inner Loop.

            The current push to open up the city with a bus garage is part of the same counterproductive thinking, for two reasons:

            One: The garage is proposed for the wrong place and has the wrong design. A single, intermodal facility should be located near the New York Central terminal north of downtown. By intermodal, I mean that the entire bus system should be revamped. The hub-and-spoke system currently used must catch up with the 21st century. There must be six or seven satellite stations around the entire bus-system service area. Downtown Rochester must not be the focus of the system. (See www.peopleforabetterbussystem.org.)

            Two: Its proposed configuration as an underground facility generates significant health and traffic questions. Having a bus turning the Main Street corner at Clinton Avenue every 20 seconds does not make for pedestrian hospitality. Not only that, but at tremendous costs the facility will quickly become a homeless shelter that will need constant police attention --- which, by the way, will not be provided by Rochester police but by rent-a-cops such as we have seen in Midtown Plaza.

            The inclusion of the proposed bus garage as part of Renaissance Square, as Mark Hare observed in the Democrat and Chronicle, "opens the lids on several pots of state and federal money."

            Yes, it does. But in running for City Council, I choose to listen to the advice of both State Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Rep. Louise Slaughter and look back into history before compounding the city's already-acute downtown problems with this mis-located and ill-considered project. While the concept of the Renaissance Square has some merits, it should be open up to full citizen participation. Criticisms of the bus garage must be addressed.

            Just because there are "several pots of state and federal money" available does not make this bus garage the right decision. We took that road in the 1960's, and we know where it got us.

            Harry Davis, South Avenue, Rochester (Davis plans to run for an at-large seat on Rochester's City Council.)


The American people need to understand that Social Security is an insurance program, not a pension plan strictly for retirees. It provides insurance benefits for the disabled and survivors, as well as retirement benefits.

            How is privatization going to affect those citizens who are under 55 or retirement age? SSDI, SSI, and survivors benefits are accessible at any age and are part of the same plan.

            Rather than create a crisis that doesn't exist at this time, the government should focus on major problems that do exist, such as the crisis with the Social Security Disability program, Medicare, Medicaid, and health care. You often hear that the reason for the SS "crisis" is that baby boomers due to retire will drain the trust fund, and that there aren't enough workers to cover them since people are having fewer children. When addressing this issue, we must also raise concerns about the unemployment rate, lack of decent-wage jobs, and the millions of jobs shipped overseas. These are the major reasons the Social Security trust fund is lacking.

            Linda Fullerton, Warwick Avenue, Rochester (Fullerton is president and co-founder of the Social Security Disability Coalition.)


Here are some thoughts on Social Security that readers might consider:

            Social Security is protected against inflation by adjustments based on the cost of living. The stock market is not protected and is a risk. If the market goes up, fine; but what if it performs as it has recently?

            How do you make up for a projected shortfall in funds in the future by diverting money out of the payroll tax?

            On privatizing: Putting part of your Social Security tax away for personal accounts sounds like a good thing, but let's look a little deeper. First, consider that a tax is money collected for use by the general public. Now, let's say I make $50,000 a year and have a percentage of my tax set aside in a "personal account." And my neighbor who makes $100,000 a year does the same, but a bigger chunk of tax money goes into his account.

            That means that a big chunk of what would have been tax (for the general public) is now going into his personal pocket. And I, as part of the "general public," have had the available Social Security funds reduced by what is going into his pocket (and my own pocket, to a lesser degree).

            Congratulations, Mr. Bush. That is a really, really clever scam, to reward the higher-paid by taking it away from the lower class.

            Homer Burdick, Rochester


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