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February 18, 2015

Urban-Suburban Program – Questions and Answers

What is the driving force behind the Urban-Suburban program?  The mission behind the U-S program has remained unchanged since its inception in 1965, to voluntarily reduce racial isolation and the segregation of academic opportunities in the elementary and secondary schools of New York State in order to enhance racial/ethnic awareness and sensitivity between and among students, teachers and parents in the elementary and secondary schools of the state.

What are the criteria for diversity?  Minority pupils are defined by the State Education Department as pupils who are Black, Hispanic (non-white)/Latino, Native American, Alaskan Native, Asian or Pacific Islander origin. Minority students residing in the Rochester City School District (RCSD) may apply for transfer to the participating suburban school districts through the program.

Are minority groups equally represented in the program?  No. Minority students are accepted into the program based on academics, student commitment and parent commitment, not their particular minority group.

How would we balance the diversity and reduce racial isolation if students are not placed at all three elementary schools?  Since Quest is a school of choice, the placement of Urban Suburban students would be dependent upon available space after resident student requests are satisfied. Urban Suburban students would enter Hilton Schools at grade one or two and continue in our district through graduation, so they would become part of the general student population at Merton Williams and Hilton High School regardless of which Hilton elementary school they attended.

Are Hilton students currently disadvantaged by not experiencing diversity in the schools?  According to the US Census, by 2050 our nation will have no clear racial majority.  Research confirms that racial diversity in schools does carry long-term social benefits including reduced college and workplace segregation, higher levels of social cohesion and reduced racial prejudice.  “Diverse schools also help graduates navigate and find comfort in racially diverse settings later in life.” From the Research Brief by The National Coalition of School Diversity

Why is the Hilton Central School District considering the program now?  Regional conversations on the subject of poverty and the disparity in student success between the Monroe County Schools and the Rochester City Schools has spurred discussions on regional solutions.  The Urban-Suburban program is one small example.

Will the addition of the Urban-Suburban students cause an increase in my property taxes?  State aid for each urban student travels with the student to the suburban district and represents additional funding for the district. Hilton will only place students in available slots to be determined annually at grades 1-2. Therefore property taxes will not be impacted.

How will the money provided by RCSD be used in the district?  The money will be added to Hilton’s general fund and can be used for regular operating costs.

If an urban student exits from an upper grade, will they be replaced by another urban student at that point?  No, all urban students will enter at grades 1 or 2 only. If an urban student exits the district from an upper grade level, the slot will remain unfilled.

How many students are we anticipating entering at grades 1-2 annually?  We expect to add between 8-12 students total each year at grades 1-2 across the district. The placement will depend upon available seats in the elementary schools.