RCSD students protest against teacher layoffs, march out of schools


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Students at some schools in the Rochester City School District protested on Monday after more than 150 teachers learned they could be out of a job due to budget cuts.

Students at the School of the Arts, East High School, Wilson, World of Inquiry and several others participated in protests or walkouts on Monday morning to show their support for teachers.

On Friday, RCSD teachers and other employees received a notice of layoffs, warning them that their jobs are in jeopardy.

According to the teacher’s union, the proposed plan called for a lot of jobs to be cut — 152 teachers, 32 non-teaching employees, 22 paraprofessionals and 12 administrators.

“Seeing my friends favorite teachers got cut, they were to the point of tears, crying that these teachers actually got cut for absolutely no reason,” East High Student Madison Smith said. “In the end, if nothing changes, these teachers know that we love them, we support them and we appreciate them.”

Students and teachers are calling on the board to consider a plan that would hold off on cuts until the end of the school year.

Rochester Teacher Association President Adam Urbanski said it would allow more time to get financial help from the state.

The district is trying to make up for a $30 million budget shortfall caused by overspending.

RCSD teachers rallied on Thursday ahead of the board meeting. The school board will vote on the entire plan December 19.

A Change.org petition to halt the midyear cuts has nearly 3,000 signatures as of 9 a.m. Monday.

One RCSD school board member says Monday’s protests won’t change her vote on the layoffs. In an email, school board member Cynthia Elliot said this:

“I think we need to wait and see how the restructuring is going to turn out.  It is not clear if our students will indeed be affected by the layoffs regardless of the response from students and teachers.  

We have a $30 million gap for last school year and a $30 million gap for the current year. We have no choice at this point. This is very difficult, but it is a decision that the board has to make. 

The protest and other reaction will probably not change my mind.”

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