Five percent of teachers and staff at the Rochester City School District will be laid off in the coming weeks, but Superintendent Terry Dade said the cuts could have been much deeper.
Dade told reporters Wednesday that his team came up with multiple plans to bridge the estimated $64.8 million budget shortfall. All included some layoffs of teachers and other staff.
Dade called the largest potential cut a “doomsday scenario.” He said that option would have eliminated about 18% of teachers and staff. To avoid that, Dade said he received help from the city’s finance department, which reviewed the district's budget and found $10 million in savings.
Dade thanked Mayor Lovely Warren for the collaboration, which comes after months of tension between City Hall and the district.
“Without that $10 million assistance from the mayor and her team, we would be looking at 10 percent staff reductions for this school year,” said Dade.
Dade acknowledged that even a 5% cut is a blow to the district.
“This reduction is something I never want to do," he said. "I never woke up dreaming I’d potentially be doing this mid-year as a superintendent at the Rochester City School District, yet it's a number that we should have to do to be fiscally responsible and start to address the significant deficit that we find ourselves in.”
Dade said the cuts will be rolled out over the next month or so, pending Board of Education approval. He expects the cuts to unfold in the following schedule:
- Dec. 2: Superintendent sends proposed staff reduction plan to board.
- Dec. 3: Superintendent reviews proposed staff reduction plan at board Audit Committee meeting.
- Dec. 4: Human resources sends notification letters to staff.
- Dec. 3-6: Board submits questions about proposed staff reduction plan.
- Dec. 6-9: Administration responds to board questions.
- Dec. 10: Staff reduction update at board Finance Committee meeting.
- Dec. 19: Board will vote on staff reduction results at monthly business meeting.
If all goes according to Dade’s plan, the hundreds of teachers and staff who will be let go will be notified on Dec. 4, but those cuts will not be final until the board votes on them on Dec. 19.
Dade said he’s unsure when the cuts would take effect, but it could be as late as January. He said student-to-teacher ratios will not change much.
“You will not see a significant increase in class sizes throughout the district. I’m absolutely committed to that,” said Dade.
Those cuts will tackle only about half of the shortfall. Dade said the rest is expected to come from cost controls, trimming programs like summer school and he hopes for at least $20 million in additional funds from the state.
Although the state will be facing budget cuts of its own, Dade said he’ll continue to press them for more funding.
“To see that the state is doing right by the students here in Rochester,” said Dade.
State and local leaders asked the state comptroller's office to audit the district's books after the shortfall was announced in September. Dade does not expect those results until March or April but said initial findings could be available in December.