School Choice Expo Offers New Options for Parents
By: Sheba Clarke

1/7/12 - Rochester City School District parents had the chance to explore schools for their kids to attend next school year.

During this year's annual School Choice Expo there were some new choices. The district's first all boys school and a chartered all girl's school slated to open this year may be creating quite a buzz amongst parents and students. It's a choice parents and students like Claritza Guzman and her daughter Silvia Ortiz never had before living in the city. "What interest me on this school is that it's an all girls school, which is awesome because it will keep my daughter focused and, hopefully, on the right path and go to college," said Guzman, district parent.

The Young Women's College Prep Charter School made its debut at this year's School Choice Expo. It is said to be the first all girls public school in Rochester. Silvia will attend 7th grade this year and her mom hopes she will be a member of the school's first ever graduating class. "When I heard about this school, it made me more comfortable with high school," said Ortiz, RCSD student. The school is scheduled to open its doors this fall and is generating plenty of interest amongst parents at the expo. "We are feeling really confident about our first year," said Principal Jennifer Gkouliasa. Gkouliasa says she's also confident they will quickly fill all 75 seventh grade spots the school has to offer this year as they start the application process. "We are confident we are going to fill that class and definitely have a waiting list," she said.

That's also the case with the district's Leadership Academy for Young Men's High School, which is in its first year. "We have 125 seats for 9th graders. We have about 25 seats for 10th graders," said Principal Wakili Moore. "Definitely this year, they will be filled up quickly." Moore says so far the school of a hundred ninth grade boys has been successful. He believes the school's future is promising as these options become more popular amongst parents "Our first year is great, everything that I thought it would be," said Moore.

Every school in the Rochester City School District was represented at the expo. Organizers say its a way for parents to get information to get kids registered into the school they want. "The true intent of this event is really to provide parents and community members with what we offer within the city school district," said Carlos Leal, RCSD professional learning instructional director.

And whether parents choose a district, charter or gender specific school they say their goal is to get their students on the right path.