Mayor Warren on RCSD finances: System ‘clearly broken’

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Analysis from Superintendent Dade due on Thursday

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — With lawmakers calling for state and federal investigations, comptroller DiNapoli running audits, and the city requesting to sever financial ties, the Rochester City School District’s estimated $50 million budget gap remained a hot top at City Hall Tuesday.

Mayor Lovely Warren said that money could fall on taxpayers to help pay back, something she made clear she does not want. She said the system needs a total reset.

“Potentially, if it’s as bad as we think that it is or has been reported or said, it can potentially cost our taxpayers millions of dollars in interest we’d have to pay, if it affects our bond rating. So for us, to have the financial responsibility and our tax payers to have the financial responsibility, and to rely on a system that is clearly broken, is wrong,” Warren said.

The reported $50 million gap in the budget was announced last week during an end-of-year audit of RCSD’s 2018-2019 budget. The amount is roughly 5% of the district’s entire budget, or about 600 teaching positions, according to Rochester Teacher’s Association president Adam Urbanski, who says layoffs are the only option to make up the funds, meaning fewer classes for students.

“Our students wouldn’t have any elective courses, they wouldn’t have any music or art of physical education or librarian or anything else that is not required by law,” Urbanski said.

The superintendent’s side

New RCSD Superintendent Terry Dade does not want to cut any jobs. Dade says some of these spending discrepancies date back five years. An analysis of what happened with the possible budget gap will be presented on Thursday. 

“This isn’t something that occurred overnight. This is something that’s been a long time in the making. It’s just my time to dig deep and do some analysis with our partners,” says Dade.

“We’re taking our time,” says School Board President Van White. “The superintendent’s taking his time to deliberate over the numbers, over the circumstances of the situation. This is not the time for finger pointing. This is the time for responsible adults to ascertain what happened,” he says.

Dade says Thursday he hopes to provide concrete numbers and assuage the nerves of the 27,000 students in Rochester and staff. 

“(I want to) end speculation in regards to the layoffs and the like,” Dade said. “That does not do anything great for our students. My job is to unite this community and rally for our students.”

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