Created: March 24, 2021 06:22 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The new plan for Rochester schools to pay their bills may avoid major cuts but officials warn some jobs may simply have to be cut in the future.
On Tuesday night, Superintendent Leslie Myers-Small gave her budget proposal for the 2021-2022 school year to the school board but she said her budget does not address the ongoing problem of too many employees.
"Be very mindful and address the fact that enrollment is declining in the Rochester City School District,” Myers-Small said.
In her presentation, the superintendent said Rochester schools have too many employees as the number of kids in the district shrinks.
Over the past year, enrollment has gone down by 2,600 students, but the number of people who work there stays high relative to districts like Yonkers, Utica, Syracuse, Albany or Buffalo.
"You can see, compared to our peer districts, that we are overstaffed in the Rochester City School District,” she said.
"The fact that we have smaller class sizes, it is not a bad thing. It's a good thing,” said Adam Urbanski, President of the Rochester Teachers Association.
Urbanski says he's pleased the district avoids large-scale layoffs in its new budget but the superintendent says change will have to come.
In a series of graphs, she demonstrated the issue.
The purple bars show how many students Rochester schools are staffed for.
The blue bars show how many they actually have, leaving hundreds of unnecessary "open seats" the district is paying for, almost 200 at Anna Murray Douglas School No. 12 alone.
"We have a ratio of about 10 students for every one teacher," Myers-Small said. "And part of this challenge frankly, has to do with the physical layout and the footprint of the schools in our district."
The district currently plans no big changes for the coming school year, but for the year after that, 2022 to 2023, the superintendent says now is the time for some "community engagement" to start a conversation about "rightsizing" the city's schools in the future, especially for whenever the current windfall of federal coronavirus aid dries up.
Urbanski says he had a promising conversation with the super on Wednesday but future cutbacks remain a hard sell.
“The trust went out the window because they kept screaming that ‘The sky is falling,’” he said. “Right now, I don’t know too many people trust what they say about the budget. And that makes it difficult for all of us.”
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