The Rochester City School District still has a long ways to go in coming up with a budget for the upcoming school year, but the initial numbers show about a $65 million budget gap.
School Board President Van White says this isn’t particularly surprising since the district often faces a shortfall early in the budget cycle.
He says as with any large organization, employee costs are among the drivers behind the expenses, including the cost of health care, and negotiated contracts.
But he says in the end, the district is required to come up with a balanced spending plan.
“We’re able to do that every year so I expect that this year will be no different. It may involve some tough decisions; we’re pretty early in that process so, no decisions have been made, we’ll make those decisions through extensive, very transparent, public budget hearings,” White told WXXI News.
White says another factor this year is the additional money needed to provide services for an influx of students from Puerto Rico, after many families fled that island after last year's hurricane.
“We opened up sort of a transition center for those students. At last count, I think it was over 200 families, just short of 500 students…that we are responsible, morally, legally, for educating. We wouldn’t have it any other way, but with that responsibility comes costs.”
White says the district is making a plea for more state aid. He says it’s too early to say whether the budget gap will require staff cuts or other cuts in programs.
The district administration releases a proposed budget next month, and there will be public hearings after that on the spending plan.