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RCSD $35M deficit now, $50M-$60M next year, enrollment down

RCSD $35M deficit now, $50M-$60M next year, enrollment down Photo: News10NBC.

Berkeley Brean
Updated: February 07, 2020 09:59 PM
Created: February 07, 2020 06:12 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We have some more sobering news from the Rochester City School District. 

Superintendent Terry Dade says next year's budget deficit will be $50 million to $60 million. 

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That's on top of the $35 million the district needs now so it can make payroll at the end of the school year.

The Budget Crisis

"I want the public to know if we don't get that $35 million we're talking about, not making payroll, no one’s getting paid in the Rochester City School District at least the last month of this fiscal year," Dade said at a news conference Friday afternoon.

That last month is June. 

Dade says this is the result of years of under-budgeting and over-spending. 

Dade got hired last July. 

By September, he said an audit showed a $30 million deficit. 

By Thanksgiving, it almost doubled.

By Christmas, the district laid off more than 100 teachers and staff.

Dade said if they didn't do that, "We would be seeing a $75 million to $80 million deficit for next year."

Just before he said he was retiring, New York State Assemblyman David Gantt said he's willing to fight for $35 million from the state, as long as it comes with a fiscal and academic monitor with veto power over the city school board.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "Where does that money come from? The general fund? Somewhere else?"

David Gantt, NYS Assemblyman: "Well I don't know where we're going to find it but I'm going to plead with the governor to find the money because the money is necessary to keep our schools open and our kids educated."

Brean: "Have you talked to the governor yet?"

Gantt: "I have not talked with the governor yet."

Brean: "When are you going to do that?"

Gantt: "As soon as I get back to Albany."

The state budget is due April 1. 

The Rochester City School budget is $925 million. 

The Enrollment Crisis

In the last 10 years, the district's enrollment declined by roughly 6,000 students. 

In the same period of time, it hired more staff and the budget increased by $340 million. 

"We're in 55 to 60 million dollar hole for next year and we have to come up with a long term, sustainable plan for the future of Rochester," Dade said. 

Part of Dade's plan is to get more children back into the district. 

From 2009 to 2014, the Rochester City School District lost 3,100 students. 

From 2014 to 2019, it lost another 3,100. 

Over the same time, Dade says the district hired 600 staff. 

Terry Dade, RCSD Superintendent: "If I, as your superintendent, had allowed that to continue for the next 10 years we would be seeing a large urban district in New York State dipping below 19,000 students."

Brean: "Where did those students go?"

Dade: "Great question. Well over 5,000 of those students went to charter organizations."

Dade says one way to re-build enrollment is with the youngest children. 

He wants to revamp early pre-K and move children from community programs in places like the YMCA back into the district-run program. 

Let's compare the numbers: 

In Buffalo, 81%of pre-K children are in the school district program. 

In Syracuse, 60% of pre-k children in the school program. 

In Rochester, it's only 39%. 

Dade wants that up to 55% next year. That's approximately 600 children. 

He says children who are in a district pre-K are twice as likely to stay in the district and every child in the district brings money into the district in the form of state aid. 


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