State RCSD monitor weighs in on financial woes, ways to fix budget crisis

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ROCHESTER, NY (WROC ) — Dr. Shelley Jallow started serving as the State Monitor for the Rochester City School District back in May. Wednesday, she presented her findings to the Superintendent, the School Board and the public to help cut spending, and fix the budget. 

With the academic plan to balance the budget, Dr. Jallow says 

  • RCSD must at all levels make a long-term commitment to focusing on resources on the acceleration of student achievement in the District.
  • RCSD must at all levels make a long-term commitment to redirect resources away from programs, pracisces, and partners that have been unable to demonstrate evidence of producing positive outcomes in the areas of teaching and learning.
  • RCSD has been challenged to execute programs and plans fully; therefore, district and school leaders would benefit from training on the core components of implementation science.

For the financial plan, Dr. Jallow repeted some of the academic recommendations above, but included some new points:

  • RCSD should align District resources according to a declining student population.
  • RCSD should make a systemic commitment to adhere to the budget constraints of the District and restrain from a culture of ‘buy it now, and trying to figure out how to pay for it later.’
  • RCSD should adopt a goal to reduce borrowing over the next 5 years.
  • RCSD should optimize all processes related to the collection of money owed to the District.
  • RCSD should demonstrate the courage to examine long-standing beliefs, practices, and structures that may be contributing to the budget deficit.
  • RCSD should re-establish the non-negotiable practice of regularly communicating expectations and holding every level of the organization responsible and accountable for student success and financial solvency.

Rochester Teachers Association President Dr. Adam Urbanski says in October, RCSD Superintendent Dr. Lesli Myers-Small estimated the tab for this school year could be as high as $199 million.

Urbanski says he thinks the report from the monitor tonight means more layoffs. He feels another round of cuts are coming, just like last December.

“This would be Christmas massacre 2.0, only on a grander scale,” he says.

He feels up to 1,500 teachers could go, if the district goes ahead with these recommendations. “That would not be survivable,” he says.

Urbanski says poor financial decisions made in the past, are now impacting the innocent. “Their plan is to balance the budget on the backs of teachers and students, and this community should not permit that to happen,” he says.

The next steps in this whole process will be to set up work sessions that talk over these recommendations, then submit plans to the State Commissioner of Education on December 1st. The plans will either be approved or disapproved by the Commissioner in January. 

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