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White still pursuing military school


A proposal made earlier this year for a military academy within the Rochester City School District continues to draw support and criticism.

School board President Van White recently sought advice from Paul Vallas, a nationally-known superintendent who has worked with the Chicago, Philadelphia, and New Orleans school systems. Vallas is both hailed and derided for opening numerous charter and military schools.

White is pursuing answers to tough questions raised by the school board after the release of a feasibility report on the proposal earlier this year. Finding funding for the school is the biggest concern, he says.

"Paul knows the various revenue sources available for something like this," he says.

White is exploring a possible collaboration with the Greece school district, but that idea is only in the discussion phase, he says.

The city school board has heard from anti-war activists who are passionately opposed to a military academy. And some board members aren't enthusiastic about it, either.

Board member Liz Hallmark questions the need for any new school, given that the district's student population is shrinking.

And the district is trying to shift to a restorative justice school culture, which contrasts sharply from the disciplinary approach favored by military academies, Hallmark says.

The full board has never had an open discussion about the proposal, she says. And she'd prefer that any recommendation for a new school come from the superintendent, she says.

But White is convinced that some parents and students want a more structured environment. And some suburbanites may be willing to consider the city school district if there's a military academy, he says.

A military school isn't for every student, but it's an alternative choice, White says.

"I have a job to make sure every student graduates, and for some, this is a positive option," he says.