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Superintendent Myers-Small presents RCSD budget proposal for next academic year

lesli myers-small profile photo
Rochester City School District
Photo provided
Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small, pictured in this file photo from when she was sworn-in.

Rochester City School District Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small presented a rough budget to the Board of Education on Tuesday.

Myers-Small's proposed budget for the next school year is expected to exceed $861 million. That’s $21.5 million more than last year. That’s despite declining enrollment and anticipated school closures. The majority of the budget is funded by state aid.

Her presentation was originally scheduled for last week. Myers-Small said that several factors caused the delay. What resulted was a week of fraught disputes over discrepancies in budget documents. That tug of war between Commissioners and the Superintendent’s cabinet was much more subdued on Tuesday night.

“We did hear your feedback last week... So with that said, please understand that this is a budget under construction if you will,” Chief Financial Officer Carleen Pierce said. “There's much work that needs to be done on it. We realized that. And we are doing everything within our abilities to make sure that this is the best budget that we can deliver to the children of RCSD. “

Pierce said that the greatest portion of spending is for employee compensation and benefits.

The proposal includes directing about $73.5 million to resources for English Language learners and students with disabilities. Nearly $19 million is proposed to go to hiring social workers, and other student support services.

“Every child deserves to engage with grade-level content every day. And students must engage with high quality, culturally responsive experiences where they are affirmed, seen and valued.” Myers-Small said.

A key section of the overall budget, the financial plan for the central office, was missing from budget books submitted to the board.

The district has until April 7 to share budget documents publicly on the website.

Noelle E. C. Evans is WXXI's Murrow Award-winning Education reporter/producer.