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RCSD to get requested $35M from state to help budget, fiscal monitor in place until 2023

RCSD

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Some much needed financial relief is coming to the Rochester City School District.

New York State Sen. Rich Funke said Wednesday that RCSD will receive $35 million per year for 30 years with payments declining by $1.5 million per year. Additionally a fiscal monitor will be put in place until 2023.

Dade and RCSD Board of Education President Van White released this joint statement regarding the state funding:

“We are extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo and our local delegation for securing the $35-million-dollars we need for the remainder of this school year. This is a huge financial boost to ensure we finish this school year without an additional deficit moving into the 2020 – 2021 school year. We all understand these are tough fiscal times, but this big yes from the Governor and state lawmakers, and the addition of a monitor, will go a long way to begin our fiscal stability moving forward.”

“The Lottery Spin-Up money, totaling $35 million, should avert the need for any addition layoff and reductions in services to our students,” said Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski. “It looks promising that we may also receive some additional Foundation Aid for the next school year.”

Assemblyman Harry Bronson says negotiations were reached through the New York State Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a deal has been reached, but there will still be a vote Wednesday to confirm the funding, it’s just not quite a done deal yet.

“I just want emphasize the advocacy of the families in the city of Rochester, the students, the parents and Superintendent Terry Dade,” Bronson said. “That really helped us out this over the finish line. I just want to give a shout out and a thank you to them.”

The district has been battling a budget deficit of potentially $60 million and local leaders, like RCSD superintendent Terry Dade, and Bronson have both said that $35 million was the “magical number” the district needed to make it through the year.

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

In February, Bronson advocated for the funding, but said it should come with more oversight, like the aforementioned fiscal monitor.

“I say we need to change the institutional culture in the school district and so I think with the monitor in place, oversight over the finances, oversight to make sure we are implementing the academic strategies that have been put in place, and with partners throughout the community being supportive that’s how we’re gonna make sure we turn this around and we have to for the children of the school district,” Bronson said in February.

At this time, News 8 does not know if the $35 million Sen. Funke reference includes this fiscal year, which is what Bronson and Dade have advocated for.

When asked if the funding was for this year, Funke said “I believe so, but still not 100% clear, I’ve been briefed generally, but need to find out more.”

“I think we’ve made the message loud and clear on all my trips to Albany that that is an absolute necessity,” Dade said about the funding on Monday.

April 1 was the deadline for funding, but amid the coronavirus outbreak many people were worried the money would not come through.

Although the funding will certainly help the district facing a financial crisis, the district still has a big hole to dig out of. In last week’s draft budget proposal for 2020-2021, Dade proposed laying off over 230 positions for the 2020-2021 school year, 190 of those would be teachers. The district has already cut 100 teaching jobs earlier this year. 

“$35 million is still needed for the 2019-2020 school year. And looking ahead, we have an additional $60 million deficit to close for the 2020-2021 school year,” Dade said last week.

Full statement from RTA President Adam Urbanski

“I am pleased to inform you that it is anticipated that the Rochester City School District will, indeed, receive the desperately needed additional State funding for this school year. The Lottery Spin-Up money, totaling $35 million, should avert the need for any addition layoff and reductions in services to our students.It looks promising that we may also receive some additional Foundation Aid for the next school year. Along with the additional funding, it is expected that there’ll be legislation for appointment of an independent Fiscal Monitor to ensure better management of the District’s budget. The NYS Legislature is expected to vote on all this later today or tomorrow.

We have worked collaboratively with Superintendent Dade to tirelessly advocate for this anticipated outcome. We are so grateful to the leadership of the New York State Legislature; to especially our Assemblyman Harry Bronson and to Manhattan’s Senator Robert Jackson; to our state and national unions, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); and to the students, parents and community partners in our Community Alliance to Save Our Schools (ROC-SOS). Most of all, I want to thank you for your continued dedication to professionalism and to your students, for your determination to maintain our solidarity and for your unwavering confidence in your union.

More on all this soon. Stay healthy and safe.”

Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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