Children’s Agenda says 21-22 RCSD budget needs ‘more specific plans to tackle big issues’

Education

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local advocates at the Children’s Agenda said they believe more changes should be made after the Rochester City School District released its 2021-2022 budget Monday night. The $986 million approved by the Board of Education and surpasses last year’s budget by around $58 million.

The RCSD’s new budget doesn’t have the cuts and deficits the community has seen in past year’s budgets. This is in part due to state and federal money and school leaders acknowledge that money is a short-term fix.

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small said layoffs were minimal and discipline helped form this budget.

“We looked at tightening systems and structures within the district and ensuring we were following through with those because its one thing to say we’re going to do XYZ, but we actually followed through on that and that really made a significant difference,” Myers-Small said.

But not everyone is content with the budget just yet. Eamonn Scanlon is an education policy director at the Children’s Agenda and said he would like to see more specific plans on how to tackle big issues.

“We want to see this money really go into dealing with the district’s longstanding issues with its most vulnerable students that’s students with special needs, English Language Learners or multi-lingual learners, issues with school climate how to improve that and lower suspensions,” Scanlon said.

Myers-Small said there are increases in the academic realm including curriculum textbooks, staffing, and professional development. Scanlon said the district can’t keep doing the same things.

“There needs to be restructuring and real investments to stop the decline in enrollment and have the enriching programs kids need and we don’t want this to be an excuse to underfund urban education in high needs district.”

The budget will be presented this week to city council which will vote on it by mid-June.

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