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Revised RCSD budget calls for hundreds of layoffs, $6M funding reduction for East High

RCSD

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Rochester City School District Superintendent Terry Dade presented a revised budget to the board of education Tuesday night.

With Albany taking a wallop paying for the coronavirus pandemic, needed state aid won’t be coming to the district next year, and other costs while the RCSD is closed are climbing. They now need to balance out over $87 million for next school year. 

“In addition to the $61 million I articulated in March, we have an additional $26.6 million deficit,” says Dade.

That $26.6 million originated from an $8 million fund balance, $1.1 million spin up payback for this year’s loan, and $17.5 million lacking in state aide for next year.

Reductions to balance the budget would be through two school closures, a re-configuration, cutting funding at East High, and other adjustments across the district. 

MORE | How RCSD got here: Timeline of events in district’s budget crisis

The proposed reductions are coming from the following areas:

  • $9.5 million in school closures or reconfiguring. School number 20, and school number 43 would be closed, and school number 3 would be turned into a middle school
  • $6 million in East High reductions
  • $5 million in cash capital City Council amendment
  • $600,000 from central office
  • A $5.5 charter school tuition rate adjustment, all totaling 26.6 million dollars. 

In addition, there are 341 staff positions on the line, with 280 of them teachers. 

“We do hope that the vast majority of the 280 reductions would be captured with attrition,” says Dade. He adds on average, 250 teacher retire or resign annually. Those cuts could be effective July 1.

“During tough times, we have to look at all pieces of the equation,” says Dade. The board will decide if they are going to vote on the revised draft budget this Thursday.

Statement from East Superintendent Dr. Shaun Nelms on RCSD Budget Cut

“We are shocked by the 30% budget cut that Rochester City School District (RCSD) Superintendent Terry Dade proposed for East. The Educational Partnership Organization (EPO) budget for East is approved by the Board of Education and is not part of Mr. Dade’s budget purview. It is also important to remember that East represents less than 2% of the total RCSD budget.

To be clear, we were not consulted on any of these cuts, nor have we participated in discussions with the Superintendent about his district-wide cuts.  A proposed $6 million cut to the East budget, if approved by the Board of Education, would sadly put an end to much of the important work that has been showing real, meaningful results for East, including professional development for our teachers, needed academic and social-emotional support for our scholars, effective curriculum that is showing results, and all of the building blocks of a great school.

In February, the Board of Education approved the continuation of the East model because of the drastic improvements in graduation rates, reading levels, and positive school culture. For the 2020-21 school year, we even proposed a 10% reduction to our budget. While we remain confident in our position and are eager to partner with the Board of Education and the Rochester community to serve our children and give them the quality education they want and deserve, the proposed significant cut would effectively end the improvements implemented as a result of the partnership with the University of Rochester. 

We want to assure East families that we look forward to serving them—and will do everything in our power to continue to provide their children with the best possible experience—in the upcoming school year.  We will continue to advocate for them and all that we have achieved together.”

Statement from Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski

“Colleagues,

In the ongoing effort to balance next year’s budget, the Rochester City School District continues to target our most vulnerable students and their teachers. 

Only a few weeks ago, the Board of Education decided to support a proposal to lay off 92 RTA members: Social Workers, Guidance Counselors, Speech and Hearing, ESOL, Special Education, and other teachers. They also determined to support the reduction or elimination of programs that serve, among others, Young Mothers, English Language Learners, refugees, Bilingual, and Special Education students. And now they are considering closing two more schools (four total) and laying off another 88.5 teachers. Altogether, the proposed teacher layoffs represent 82% of all staff reductions – whereas teachers represent, by far, a significantly lesser percentage of the cost in the District’s budget.

Cutting as close to the classroom as possible seems to be the RCSD’s persistent and unfortunate choice. At the same time, they fiercely refuse to make any significant reductions at Central Office and in administrative overhead. This reckless strategy can only lead to further undermine the public’s confidence in the City School District and to a continued exodus of families and students from city schools. 

We must continue and intensify our efforts to oppose the proposed cuts of the needed educators and the vital services that they provide to our students. This will be the main topic for deliberation at next Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the RTA Representative Assembly – our union’s only policy-making body. We will then let you know what it is that you could do to join in this struggle. Meanwhile, please do continue to email the school board <BoardOfEducation@rcsdk12.org> and urge them to do the opposite of what is being recommended: tell them to spare our students and to make the cuts as far away as possible from the classroom and from the students.

We expect to receive the details about the proposed teacher cuts by the end of this week. We will then share that information with you. We will, of course, continue do all we can to avoid or at least mitigate the proposed cuts of teachers and the reduction of essential services to our students. 

Our solidarity remains our strongest asset. Thank you for all that you continue to do, every day, for your students. Stay safe.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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