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Cuomo's budget calls for RCSD 'Monitor'

Berkeley Brean
Updated: January 22, 2020 05:49 AM
Created: January 21, 2020 06:30 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — At the same time as his speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office emailed his budget book. We found something on page 123 that has the potential to impact thousands of children, their families and teachers.    

On page 123, the governor calls for a "monitor" for the Rochester City School District. 

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The top of the page says "legislation required for the budget." 

So lawmakers will have to vote on this position. I found that State Senator Rich Funke proposed a monitor for the city school district in

September and moved it into the Senate Education Committee on Jan. 8. 

I reached the senator by phone in Albany.

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "This monitor in the governor's budget, is that the monitor your bill creates?"

Sen. Rich Funke, (R) 55th Senate District: "The governor creates his own bill when he talks about school monitors. I'm thankful that he has taken a look at what we've been proposing for the last couple of months."

In the summer, the RCSD learned that it is $30 million in the hole. 

By Thanksgiving, the gap grew to approximately $60 million

At the end of the year, the school board approved more than 100 teacher and staff cuts

It's still $25 million short.

Senator Funke blames bad decisions and lack of oversight by the school board and previous administration. 

"The only way to do it is to have somebody in place who can veto the poor decision making that's been the history of this school board," Funke said. 

I just got off the phone with Rochester Assemblyman Harry Bronson. He is working on a plan too. 

Like Senator Funke, Bronson's plan calls for two monitors for the city school district; one to oversee the district's academics and one to oversee the district's money. 

"The monitors would be there as a second set of eyes to make sure that we re-set the school district for the benefit of the students," Bronson said. 

News10NBC received the following statement from the governor's press office: 

"Rochester's well documented fiscal and academic issues will be addressed by the school monitor legislation advanced in the budget today.  The legislation, based on recent legislation the Executive and Legislature agreed to in other districts in the state, will bring transparency and accountability to school governance in the City.  Mayor Warren is engaged, Superintendent Dade is making a thorough review, and these actions will help the board navigate through important choices in the future.  The Monitor will work collaboratively with the Mayor, the Superintendent and the Board to develop multi-year academic and fiscal plans – informed through a transparent, public process – to chart a course for the district's future success.  Ultimate academic and fiscal accountability will rest where it belongs, with the Commissioner of Education; and fiscal issues will have the input of the Mayor too, based on the district's fiscally dependent relationship with the City."  


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