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Cuomo: 'We're going to have to cut education aid'

Berkeley Brean
Created: March 27, 2020 06:11 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The last thing we needed to end this week is more bad news. But we got on Friday from Gov. Andrew Cuomo about our schools and money.

Gov. Cuomo: "We're going to have to cut education aid because that's the number one expense."

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Gov. Cuomo says the state has lost $10 billion to $15 billion and all the federal money it's getting, by law, must only be used on the coronavirus.

Gov. Cuomo: "But the main expense for the state is education. [The federal government] knows that. So when they didn't give the state funding all they did was cut the education budget to the state of New York which is a tragedy."

It's a hit to every school in our area, but mostly the city school district. 

This week, Rochester Superintendent Terry Dade proposed more cuts to programs and staff including another 192 teachers.

And that was banking on a $35 million bailout this year and assuming a standard $4 million state aid increase for next year. 

I reached Dade online Friday just moments after the governor said he has to cut school money. 

Brean: "Is that concerning to you?"

Dade: "It is. My concern is we won't even receive the $4.5 that we anticipate in this proposed budget. My fear is that I have to go back to the community as early as next week or the week after with a revised budget that could have additional reductions built into it."

Friday Governor Cuomo also extended the school closure from April 1 to April 15. That's the Wednesday after spring break.

Brean: "What do you think of that?"

Dade: "To be expected."

Brean: “Do you even think April 15th is a realistic date?”

Dade: “A lot would need to happen in my opinion in the next few weeks for us to reopen.”

Dade, who proposed more cuts to programs and teachers in his budget proposal this week, says they're going to expand online learning, getting chrome books to elementary school kids. High schoolers already have them.

By April 15, children will have been out of class for 25 days.

Brean: "Could you ever envision school extending out through the summer?"

Dade: "I've actually posed that question. I think that's something we have to consider as a community. Does summer break look like summer break due to our students being out for so long?"

Chris Widmaier is a former teacher in the city.

Brean: "Could you foresee schools going on through the summer?"

Widmaier: "I think it's an interesting option. I think it would be hard to make that, compel teachers and students to do that but I think it's something they should really consider."

I reached a teacher in Greece. 

Brean: "What has this been like as a parent?"

Elizabeth Andino, Greece parent: "As a parent this has been like a 60/40 split. Challenging and fun."

Elizabeth Andino has a 3rd grader and a 2-year-old at home. She's teaching, not just checking homework. The classroom is the kitchen table and the backyard. 

Brean: "Do you honestly think we'll be going back to school on April 15th?"

Elizabeth Andino: "I don't. No. I think looking at those curves and all the charts we see. We haven't reached our peak yet."

I reached one teacher outside the city.

In a text, she told me, "This has definitely been a challenging time for teachers. I miss my students immensely with their bright spirits and optimistic hearts, especially during this uncertain time."


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