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Proposed Rochester City School District budget calls for deep cuts

The Rochester School District has received a $3.75 million grant.
Emily Hunt for WXXI News
The Rochester School District has received a $3.75 million grant.

The proposed Rochester City School District budget unveiled Tuesday evening would cut a number of staff positions; 326 in all, including 194 teachers.

The $925 million spending plan calls for cuts in a number of areas in order to balance the budget.

One of  the issues outlined in the document by Interim Superintendent Dan Lowengard is declining enrollment. It shows the district with just over 25,000 students in the upcoming school year, compared to 31,511 a decade ago.

Credit RCSD
A graph of RCSD enrollment from its 2019-20 budget presentation

“We have to get to a spot where we spend only what’s coming in," said Lowengard. "And if we don’t do it we could go bankrupt because we wouldn’t have a savings account to dig into to make sure we have a balanced budget.”

The budget presentation also said that factors contributing to a structural deficit include not enough New York State Foundation Aid and revenue from the city remaining flat.

Besides the teacher positon cuts, the proposed budget also calls for staff reductions at central office, which officials say would also mean the reduction of support services to schools.

There would also be cuts to some programs and the restructuring of special education.  Rochester Board of Education President Van White says he will not let the budget stunt the district’s progress in this area.

“I’m not willing to jeopardize the progress we’ve made, the good faith effort that we’ve made to reorganize special education services based on economics,” White said.

He said he’ll wait for more details on Lowengard’s plan before passing judgement.

The budget plan also lists district priorities including a focus on racial equity, reducing the structural deficit, increasing graduation rates and implementing the action plan that comes out of the recent report by the state-appointed distinguished educator.

Public hearings on the budget will be held in April, with the school board expected to vote on the plan on May 7.

City Council is scheduled to meet to consider adopting the budget on June 18.

RCSD 2019-20 DRAFT Budget Presentation 3-19-19 3.48pm by WXXI News on Scribd

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.
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