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Group of RCSD teachers propose one day strike

A group of Rochester City School District teachers held an emergency meeting Friday on the state of the district’s funding and the lengths they’re willing to go to get more aid. 

RORE -- or the Rochester Organization of Rank and File Educators -- are calling for a one-day teachers strike on March 6 in hopes that the district’s state foundation aid is fully funded, among other demands. 

The Alliance for Quality Education, an advocacy group, calculates that the district is owed about $83 million based on New York state’s foundation aid formula. That money would just about fill the current budget gap. Superintendent Terry Dade has said without extra state aid, he may have to lay off 800 teachers and staff members.

A flyer from the event says they picked March 6 as a signal to federal, state and local lawmakers who are due to attend the Board of Education’s legislative breakfast the next day. They also want to give parents enough time to make other arrangements for their children.

Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, said he and other union officers were invited to the meeting, but he could not attend. He says a strike is “premature” and called the RORE members “presumptuous.” 

“There are 3,400 teachers in our union. Five or six self-anointed spokespersons do not represent them and do not speak for them,” said Urbanski.

Teachers strikes are illegal in New York state, and Urbanski said each teacher who participates would lose twice the money they’re paid each day in penalties. He said he’d support a strike, though, if the union approves it.

“It requires two-thirds of teachers to vote for a strike. If two-thirds of the teachers voted for a strike, we’d have a strike,” said Urbanski.

Attempts to reach several members of RORE for comment weren't immediately successful.

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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