ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Carleen Pierce, the Rochester City School District’s Chief Financial Officer, told school board members Tuesday the district’s budget deficit could be about $199 million.
In a Zoom meeting with the district’s Finance Committee of the Whole, Pierce gave a presentation outlining areas of concern within the 2020-21 budget.
“The $199 million, includes all the items in red, to give everyone, again, the big picture, the worst case scenario, based on if those red items are included,” said Pierce, who added the numbers are subject to change.
“The fact of the matter is, we’re showing you, and I mean you the community, where we are dipping down below the amount zero, there, with regard to our liquid cash position,” said Pierce, describing the district’s Liquid Cash Balance Projection over the course of the year.
Van White, the School Board President, raised concerns about the $86 million Revenue Anticipation Note included in the projection.
“That’s an $86 million reflection of the hole we’re allegedly in, and that to me, the title, cannot be reconciled with how we’re describing it in terms of our debt,” said White.
The district’s short-term actions to save money include a hiring freeze, limited overtime pay, ceasing out-of-town travel and freezing certain expenditures.
“The reality is that years of decisions of being allowed to overspend has led us here,” said Beatriz LeBron, an RCSD Board of Education Commissioner.
Dr. Shelley Jallow, the RCSD’s state monitor, listed observations that contribute to the district’s situation, including expenses growing faster than revenue, declining enrollment and high absenteeism, and inaccurate budget projections.
The presentation was streamed on the district’s YouTube page.