RCSD $64 million shortfall? Mayor wants to study it, NYS senators call for state monitors | WHEC.com

RCSD $64 million shortfall? Mayor wants to study it, NYS senators call for state monitors

Berkeley Brean
Created: November 13, 2019 06:06 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The superintendent of RCSD says the total shortfall in the district's budget is as high as $64 million.

So we wanted to talk to the people in a position to take action. 

Mayor Lovely Warren, troubled by the academic performance in the city schools, has been pushing for a state takeover of the district. In fact, the mayor wanted a referendum on the ballot last week for a state takeover.

Today she and her spokesman told me they want to study the superintendent's plan to deal with the deficit before they talk about it. 

So we agreed on one question: what's the game plan now? 

The mayor told me she's meeting her budget director and city council late Wednesday.  

Mayor Lovely Warren, City of Rochester: "And so we're going to talk internally, also with City Council. There are some things City Council will have to do regarding one of the things the superintendent proposed. But we're going to continue to work with the superintendent and the board of education as well as our team and also all of our partners to see what's the best way we can continue to help kids."

Assemblyman David Gantt wants the mayor to control schools. He wrote that in a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo in September.

State Senator Rich Funke, who represents parts of the east side of the city, told me he wants the New York State Education Department to assign two monitors with veto power over the city school board. 

Senator Funke says one monitor would oversee the budget and the other would oversee academics. 

Sen. Rich Funke, (R) 55th State Senate District: "So we have someone there with veto power over decisions made by the school district."

Chief Investigative Reporter Berkeley Brean: "What is the timeline on that and likelihood of that happening?"

Sen. Rich Funke: "The timeline on it, at this point in time, would be when we get back [in legislative session] in January."

Brean: "And the likelihood of that is what?"

Sen. Rich Funke: "I think the likelihood is good. It's not foreign to the state education department."

The state has done it already with schools on Long Island and Yonkers. 

Senator Joe Robach wants more oversight of the money. 

"Clearly that's going to happen," Senator Robach said. "I mean there are some people that have called me up and said isn't it against the law or criminal to spend money you don't have. It's not exactly criminal but yes, something is going to happen to that piece."

This kind of oversight requires an act of the legislature. 

The legislature officially goes back into session in January, 2020. Senator Funke says they might get called back for a special session in December and could get it passed then. 

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