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Union leaders call for combined sacrifice to climb out of RCSD budget deficit

Andrew Hyman
Created: December 13, 2019 11:22 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The Rochester Teachers Association, and Superintendent Terry Dade are working to find common ground to avoid or reduce the number of teachers to be cut.

If nothing is done, 152 teachers are expected to be out of a job, Teachers were served pink slips last Friday as the district works to climb out of a $60 million hole, which could climb even higher if left unchecked.

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Karen Lahr was one of the teachers who received a notice, she has served as an RCSD teacher since the 1990s. 

Due to her tenure, she’d stay in the district, but lose her current position as a pre-k teacher.

Lahr says she understands the district needs to make cuts, though she says sending teachers packing mid-way through the school year could hurt students everywhere.

“You probably couldn't have this happen at a worse time," she said.

It’s a thought shared by Rochester Teachers Association President, Adam Urbanski.

"That will disrupt learning for our students, disrupt relationships for our students," Urbanski said.

So, the association is going to the negotiating table with the district to find a way to either get rid of, or cut down on the disruption.

Urbanski says it's going to take "reasonable" sacrifices to make something happen, though it cannot be one-sided.

"We're all in the same boat, and if you're in the same boat, it don't matter which end leaks," he said.

As News10NBC reported Tuesday, teachers were looking to Urbanski to allow them to make concessions to possibly save some jobs.

And on Friday, Superintendent Dade said it would be “a stretch” to say any concessions would save every teacher.

Last week, Dade revealed the administrative union Associations of Supervisors and Administrators of Rochester (ASAR) had agreed to give up about $450,000 in vacation cash, which could save about eight to 10 positions.

Unions want the district to hold off on the mid-year cuts, and seek advanced state aid.  Urbanski believes it’s possible through what he calls “spin up money.” On Friday, Dade said he's asked for about $25 million in state aid.

"I’m not in a position to rely on hope that hopefully in March we would get the funding that we would need," Dade said.

Both Urbanski and Lahr say they understand teachers could still be laid off at the end of the school year, but a combined effort could soften the blow.

"What are they, how are they helping?” Lahr said. “Other than to say, well, we have to make these cuts. That's the only thing I know that they've come up with."

Lahr was one of many teachers who attended special drop-in sessions with the RTA on Monday.

Urbanski says he’s open to whatever offers the district may have, even if it’s not something he agrees with. Though, if the deal does not include a delay in cuts, he says, the RTA will walk away from the table.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Urbanski said.

Both Dade and Urbanski would not get into what specific concessions are on the table. The two sides are set to meet again on Monday, we'll keep you posted on any developments.

The school board will ultimately vote on the layoffs on Thursday, Dec.19.


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