ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District superintendent, Terry Dade, is trying to fill an $87 million budget gap for the 2020-21 school year.
Terry Dade said these proposed cuts are going to be real and significant. He presented his plans to the Board of Education Tuesday night and he said they have already asked over 200 questions about the cuts.
340 staff members, including 180 teachers, are on the chopping block in Dade’s proposed budget cuts. Dade said he anticipates many of these cuts will be absorbed by teachers retiring or resigning on their own.
Adam Urbanski is the Rochester Teachers Association president. He said he believes these staff cuts could lead to the dismantling of the city school district.
“Families watching all of this are deciding in ever-increasing numbers that maybe they shouldn’t send their kids to city schools,” Urbanski said.
The proposal also includes two school closures and one school re-configuration.
“These cuts are going be real and significant moving forward but hopefully the tough decisions today will make us move to a brighter future for the rocs in the years to come,” Dade said.
Dade is also proposing a $6 million reduction in East High’s partnership with the University of Rochester. The program has been going on for five years and was renewed by the board in February. Dade said cutting from East wasn’t part of his original plan but he couldn’t leave any rock unturned.
“It’s not just East that’s having success, there’s quite a few schools within RCSD that are making it work with much less and so we all have to roll up our sleeves and do more with less and East is no different,” said Dade.
East superintendent Shaun Nelms said the program has brought the school’s graduation rates from 19 percent to 70 percent. He said cutting part of it could be a huge step backwards.
“Once you start to take the layers away you start to remove academic opportunities for kids. So when I say that the partnership is done, it’s done because essentially you’ve eliminated every part of the program that was written and approved by the board in February. We have to be thoughtful about not using successful models as a scapegoat for institutional failure,” Nelms said.
The board will be deliberating on the budget over the next two weeks. The vote will take place on May 7 and then Dade will present city council with a balanced budget.
Dade has been dealing with a combined budget deficit of $152 million between this and next school year.