Cuomo says he'll support any legislation needed to fix RCSD money mess

Oct 9, 2019

Credit Emily Hunt / for WXXI News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s willing to help with whatever is needed to fix the Rochester City School District’s financial mess. But, he says, City Council and the state education department need to stop pointing fingers and come up with a plan.

During a visit to Irondequoit on Wednesday to announce a lawsuit that the state was filing against the International Joint Commission, Cuomo said both entities have a host of options on how they want to rectify the district’s financial mismanagement, but a choice needs to be made. Cuomo said if the option they think is best for the district requires legislation, he would help make that happen.

“It’s a dramatic problem, it’s going to require a dramatic solution,” Cuomo said. “Either the City Council should take action or SED (state education department) should to take action, or say, ‘We have an alternative plan, we can’t do legally,’ and I will help them get the legislation through this next session.”

One of the options that Cuomo mentioned is mayoral control. It’s been an option that Mayor Lovely Warren and Assemblyman David Gantt have floated before, and Cuomo said he would give his blessing for it.

“Do you want to put the mayor in charge of the school system? That would require legislation, I would support it,” Cuomo said.

Mayor Warren seemed appreciative that the governor would step in to give whatever support is needed to rectify the district’s issues.

“I believe it is time to put our words into action and stand ready to partner with the state, parents and teachers to deliver meaningful change for our children,” Warren said in a statement. “The details of any partnership, including one involving mayoral leadership, are critical in order to move forward on behalf of Rochester’s most vulnerable citizens, our children.”

The district is facing a $30 million shortfall, one that was not disclosed by the district’s chief financial officer, Everton Sewell. Sewell presented a budget that appeared balanced, but an audit revealed the deficit. Sewell resigned Tuesday.