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December 7, 2012
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Jonathan Burman or Jeanne Beattie

(518) 474-1201


SED Announces School Innovation Fund Grant to Rochester CSD

State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. today announced a nearly $5 million School Innovation Fund (SIF) grant to Rochester City School District. Under New York State’s Race to the Top program, SIF grants are targeted to support school districts to increase high school graduation rates, college and career readiness of high school graduates, college persistence, and college graduation rates by increasing the availability of new high quality seats for students at most risk.

"We’re putting School Innovation Fund grants into schools where students need the most support," King said.  "The goal of the Board of Regents Reform Agenda is to make sure every student in New York graduates from high school with the skills to succeed in college and careers. These grants will help move us closer to that goal." 

Using SIF grant funds, school districts – with approved evaluation plans – must partner with one Lead Partner or a Partner Consortium to launch a whole-school redesign of an existing school within any one of the following design frameworks:

  1. College Pathways School Design
  2. Community-Oriented School (wrap-around services) Design
  3. Arts and/or Cultural Education School Design
  4. Career and Technical Education (CTE) School Design
  5. Virtual/Blended/Online School Design
  6. Network-Affiliated School

Rochester will use its $2,499,833 grant at Dr. Louis A. Cerulli School 34 to work with partners (The State University of New York at Geneseo, The National Center on Time and Learning, Project U.N.I.Q.U.E., and The Center for Youth) to adopt a shared governance model; extend the school day by six hours a week and five days per year; deliver mathematics additional instruction and mathematics enrichment; enhance students’ experiential base through arts enrichment; increase student access to community enrichment experiences; and increase student access to preventive and therapeutic mental health support systems.

Rochester will use its $2,499,627 grant at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School 9 to work with partners (The National Center on Time and Learning, Baden Street Settlement of Rochester, ViaHealth and Nazareth College) to extend learning time (school day from 8 a.m – 5 p.m.); add an Expanded Learning Opportunities Director to manage the structure of extended learning time; strengthen the school’s Boys Academy; add two literacy specialists and one STEM specialist; offer STEM and Pre-AP student experiences; launch a “Newcomers” program for students and their families with no or very limited English proficiency; implement a “Coping Powers Program”; and enhance service with the school-based health center provider (ViaHealth).

King said this is the second round of SIF grants. Last year, the State Education Department (SED) awarded $4,998,028 to two school districts. In this round, SED anticipates awarding $12,042,849 over the next two and a half years in SIF grants. This year, Rochester is one of three school districts in the state, along with Schenectady CSD and Newburgh Enlarged CSD, awarded SIF grants. A fourth district, New York City Department of Education, is fundable contingent upon an approved evaluation plan (Annual Professional Performance Review [APPR plan]).

Districts with schools identified as Priority Schools that were not awarded School Improvement Grant (SIG) funds were eligible to apply for a SIF Grant. By December 31, 2012, all grant-eligible applicants must have an approved APPR plan as required by Education Law §3012-c to receive funding. Rochester’s APPR plan was approved on August 30, 2012.

The SIF grant is part of the Board of Regents’ statewide effort to prepare students for college and careers with a focus on improving chronically underperforming schools and raising graduation rates for at-risk student populations (particularly English language learners, students with disabilities, and low-income students).

The SIF Grant aligns with the State’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver application that the U.S. Department of Education approved on May 29, 2012 (see