ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City Schools District’s reported budget gap has both parents and past students concerned.
District officials reported last week that they found through an external audit overspending in the 2018-19 budget, most likely on health care and special education.
In response, the City of Rochester has motioned to sever financial ties with the district and lawmakers at the state and federal level are calling for immediate investigations, audits and subpoenas.
“I wasn’t surprised, we’ve bee, here before,” said Walida Monroe Sims, an RSCD parent.
Sims has eight children, all of whom are either in city schools or attended city schools. She worries that the reported $50 million gap in the budget could lead to teacher layoffs.
“I’m an advocate for working parents, for parents who need our district,” Sims said. “So the education that’s provided should be provided with quality and equity and they need to be held accountable.”
Rochester Teacher’s Association President Adam Urbanski is also concerned, considering $50 million is about 5% of the district’s entire budget, and roughly the salary of 600 teaching jobs. Urbanski 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.
Past students are also worried. Jimmy Knight went to a city school and he says the conditions weren’t great to begin with and the schools can’t afford to cut back.
“It’s gonna affect a lot of people especially the youth. And that’s why it gets to me. I’m a youth myself I’ve been there. It’s gonna affect a lot of people in a bad way,” Knight said.
In a social media post, Superintendent of district schools Terry Dade said, “I know that difficult decisions will have to be made. However, these decisions will be made judiciously so that their impact is felt somewhere other than the classroom.”