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RCSD officials planning to reduce staff by 5% to cut costs after 'budget crisis'

Kaci Jones
Created: November 12, 2019 11:18 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — We're learning more about cuts in the Rochester City School District to restore $30 million of overspending from the 2018-19 school year budget.

An external audit revealed the district overspent $22 million in 2018-19 then dipped into $8 million in savings to make up for it.

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Jobs, services, and more are getting cut as officials correct this expensive mistake. In a full room Tuesday evening, Superintendent Terry

Dade flipped through 26 slides on what he calls the district's financial crisis.

"We reviewed our current budget and we saw that we under-budgeted in our current year," Dade said. "So to be a responsible superintendent I can't just close my eyes and think that we're just going to miraculously come up with additional funds."

The presentation outlined $42.3 million of potential under-budgeting and $13.6 million in projected over budgeting that could become a deficit in 2019-20 if left unaddressed. The RCSD Board of Commissioners voted to pass a resolution to start the first round of cuts in places like professional development, healthcare, extended learning days and more to save $28 million dollars.

"Extended learning time has been one that I know families are going to feel rather quickly," Dade said. "Those are afterschool programs that we budgeted for portions of but we didn't allocate transportation."

District officials are also planning to reduce staff by at least 5%. This would eliminate more than 280 positions, and 168 of them would be teachers. John Pavone, viice president of the Rochester Teachers Association says he is not pleased to hear the places where cuts are planned.

"By cutting that amount of teachers they are going to hurt student learning," Pavone said. "I haven't heard one cut in central office, not a since cut. They have a bloated bureaucracy here. They can cut from the central office and not cut a single teacher."

Dade says while balancing the books, he remains committed to keeping kids first.

"We need to find upwards of $60 million this school year so unfortunately, that's going to result in staff reduction," Dade said. "How do we come up with a comprehensive plan to implement those reductions while also moving the district forward and making sure our students get a high-quality education?"

Staff cuts didn't start yet. Dade says his team is still figuring out how to make the cuts with minimal impact on students. Whenever a final plan is drafted it must be approved by the board. Dade also plans to lobby the state for more money to make up for the remaining outstanding balance.

The State Comptroller's Office is still working on an audit looking into how the district overspent $30 million in the 2018-19 school year.


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