Updated: November 17, 2019 01:46 PM
Created: November 15, 2019 09:51 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — News10NBC is taking a closer look at the Rochester City School District Budget in the midst of what officials call a crisis.
An external audit revealed the district overspent $22 million last year then dipped into savings for $8 million to cover it. Superintendent Terry Dade says the district overspent more than $7 million for substitute teachers in the 2018-2019 school year.
"Five years ago we spent around $12 million on subs last year we got to around $17.2 million and following trend data we should come in around $18 million this year," Dade said.
In Tuesday's finance meeting Dade outlined substitute teacher costs in the district and emphasized an under-budgeting trend in that department. Dade says in the 2019-2020 budget district officials did it again to the tune of $12 million.
"Twelve million under budget for something as simple as looking at historical data to see where we should come in this year," Dade said.
In Buffalo, budget data shows the district spent $7.5 million in the 2017-2018 school year on substitutes and budgeted $6.9 million for subs in ‘18-’19 and ‘19-’20.
Why does Rochester spend nearly double the cost of Buffalo?
News10NBC requested the number of reported teacher absences for the past few years. In the 2017-2018 school year there were 46,708 absences, in the 2018-2019 school year there were 49,043 absences, and in the 2019-2020 school year so far there have been 9,524 absences. These numbers include vacancies and open positions.
Adam Urbanski, Rochester Teachers Association President says the numbers are not out of the ordinary.
"I don't think we have an absenteeism problem that is substantially different than any other urban district or any other district where the stress level is very high," Urbanski said.
Urbanski says contracted teachers get 10 sick days and two personal days each year, but the data the district provided is misleading because it includes all absences. Urbanski said this skews the actual number of teacher absences. He believes district leaders should look deeper into the reason teachers are calling in.
"We need to support teachers better in our district so that the stress does not cause additional absences," Urbanski said.
A spokesman for RCSD confirmed the data does include vacant teacher positions and said he is working on gathering the true number of teacher absences sometime early next week.
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