Superintendent Vargas to Leave Post This Week

Superintendent Vargas to Leave Post This Week

Overview

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester City Schools superintendent Bolgen Vargas is leaving his post this week.

“More and better learning time for our students,” he said.

That’s the mark Dr. Bolgen Vargas says he’s left on Rochester City Schools.

Since he became superintendent four years ago Vargas has worked to give city students the most instructional time in Monroe County.

He says he’s also proud of launching universal pre-K and improving attendance, extracurriculars, and the arts.

However, challenges remain. Graduation rates continue to be among the lowest in the state, and enrollment is dropping. Mayor Lovely Warren said the number one reason middle-class families leave Rochester is the reputation of city schools.

“We need to act with a greater sense of urgency to change this organization to one in which we treat every child like one of our own,” Vargas said. “And everyone who works in the district could honestly say that it would be okay for them to send their children to this district. Until we do that, we will continue to lose children to charter schools, to private schools, and to suburban schools.”

And violence plagues the community.

“We’re going to have to raise the next generation to be peaceable, to learn how to get along, to learn how to be successful in school,” Vargas said. “And we are asking the community to help us with student discipline. We need to do a better job around surrounding our students with social and emotional support.”

Vargas says he did not accomplish enough in changing the district’s culture.

“The system has been designed around the needs of adults,” he said. “And we have been trying for the last four years to shift the culture of the district to be student-centered, rather than adult-centered.”

He says he’s faced opposition in his effort to redirect $80 million from administration to students.

“Every time you shift resources you are going to experience people who disagree with you, because it will impact the adults or the interests of certain groups,” Vargas said.

Conflicts with the school board over the superintendent’s powers led to lawsuits, and ultimately Vargas’ resignation.

“Our students are the most vulnerable in this county, perhaps in this state,” he said. “And to know that I have made mistakes like anyone, you cannot do this job without making mistakes, but when you take count of the things that we have done, it has been a privilege to serve them and our teachers.”

He says he is confident in the abilities of interim superintendent Dan Lowengard. Vargas will stay with the district in an advisory role until the transition is complete and his contract ends in June.

After that, he says he is open to new possibilities.

“I hope it will be continuing to serve children,” Vargas said. “That is my passion and what I think I can do best.”
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