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State lawmakers have differing opinions on asking the state to help RCSD

Education

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Will the state legislature give the Rochester City School District additional aid? That’s the hope from some as the district begins to cut the budget and lay off teachers.

There was a surprise $30 million dollar shortfall from last year’s budget. Now a projected $34 million one this year, a total $64 million dollar hole, hence the layoffs.

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

Assemblyman Harry Bronson said he met with superintendent Terry Dade on Tuesday. He said he told Dade he wants to avoid disrupting classrooms in the middle of the year and that Rochester leaders should ask the state for help.

“Disrupting the classroom I don’t think is the right approach I think a better approach would be to find cost savings in other areas at least through the end of the school year in June and let’s see if we can try to encourage the state to help out with some funds to get the district through its cash flow issue,” said Bronson.

But not all representatives feel this way. Senator Rich Funke said he doesn’t see why anyone would give more money to a district that’s millions of dollars in the hole and can’t explain why. His full statement:

“I hate to see anyone laid off, let alone teachers in some of the neediest schools in our city. That said, we are facing a situation where RCSD leaders overspent by $30 million last year and expect a further deficit this year of up to $64 million. Some  want the School Board to seek an advance on state aid to cover all this and avoid cuts to staff. I’ve got one question in response: Why in the world would anyone hand over any additional money to an entity that is $64 million in the hole and can’t really explain why? Adding to the quagmire the state has a  $6.1 billion deficit because of massive overspending particularly on Medicaid (which now costs more than the programs in Florida and Texas COMBINED, apparently they have figured this out but we can’t) and other programs and despite a $1 billion tax increase last year (which I voted against) So, we have one fumbling, fiscally inept government entity going to another fiscally irresponsible government entity for a loan when neither can meet their current expenses? Only in New York. At the State level we need to get spending under control and not raise taxes. In the Rochester School District’s case how can anyone support a single additional dollar going to them unless the current leadership resigns and is replaced temporarily by a monitor appointed by the State Education Department. How can the Rochester Teacher’s Association continue to support keeping this school board in place when its decisions and actions have lead directly to perhaps hundreds of their members losing their jobs ? We should do what we can to help struggling students and teachers at RCSD BUT ONLY after the current School Board is removed. Let’s start working together to get it done.”

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