Rochester City Council members grill school officials over budget crisis

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two days after the chief financial officer of the Rochester City School District resigned city council members grilled school officials Thursday about the financial crisis.

The city kicks in $120 million of the district’s $900 million budget.

City Council member spent the evening questioning officials from the school district and board of education. They are trying to make sense of the district’s current financial crisis.

“It’s a part of us trying to find out what exactly is going on what needs to happen to fix it,” said City Council President Loretta Scott.

RCSD Superintendent Terry Dade said decrease in revenue, underbudgeting, using the budget fund balance to close financial gaps, lack if financial spending controls, and a decline in enrollment caused the deficit.

“This isn’t our complete budget so if you do the plus or minus where we overspent and underspent, we overspent by 22.4 million for the total 2018 – 2019 school year, ” said Dade.

That’s different than $30 million the district announced last month. Councilmember Michael Patterson noted the discrepancy.

“So if it is incorrect I am very concerned,” said Patterson.

Without a chief financial officer at the helm, he resigned this week, council members are also concerned how the budget will be managed moving forward.

“Checks and balances will be reviewed at all levels,” said Scott. “We cannot continue budgeting the way it’s done now. We can’t do it.”

Dade told council members he will oversee the budget until a new CFO is found. He also said they can expect full transparency while he works to close the deficit.

“I think we will be able to clear it up by providing some of the financial statements that the council referenced,” said Dade. “They will be able to see for themselves exactly where our deficit lies along with our external auditors providing that information in the coming weeks.”

Council President Loretta Scott asked Dade how he plans to close the current budget deficit. He said he will be looking at combining schools, school closures, and reducing staff. Dade said those changes will be made next month.

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