The Rochester City School District is grappling with a $30 million shortfall.
That estimate was revealed by District Superintendent Terry Dade in a Thursday afternoon news conference after district officials recently indicated that a year-end audit for the last school year found that the district was over-budget.
Dade says a preliminary review shows that issues contributing to the overspending include employee benefits, teacher substitutes, retirement benefits and contract transporation.
“Our finance team is continuing its work with our internal auditors, while we’re welcoming additional supports. On October 4, representatives from the New York State Comptroller’s office will be joining me and (School Board President Van)White to begin its examination of our district’s finances," Dade said.
Dade says that significant cuts will likely be needed in the budget, but he is trying to avoid a scenario that would impact students and staff.
“Every hiring decision needs to come through me first before it’s passed along to our board of education," said Dade. "So not a hard hiring freeze but my extra scrutiny as we talk about the cuts necessary to address the situation.”.
Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski attended the announcement. He’s very concerned for the district’s students. .
“How do you reduce a budget shortfall of 30 million dollars and accomplish what the superintendent I think genuinely wants to accomplish which is to avoid or minimize any impact on students. That I think will be a very difficult task,” said Urbanski.
Eamonn Scanlon who works for The Children’s Agenda, an education focused non profit. He hopes Dade does not repeat past mistakes going forward..
“The 2018 budget process was mostly done behind closed doors," said Scanlon. "A lot of the assumptions happened at the last minute. The twelfth hour and I think that’s coming to roost right now.”
Dade says the New York State Education Department has offered its support, and he expects to meet with the Chancellor for the New York State Board of Regents, Betty Rosa and her staff next week.
More information on the district’s financial situation is expected at an October 8th school board audit committee meeting.