In the ongoing effort to balance next year’s budget, the Rochester City School District continues to target our most vulnerable students and their teachers.
Only a few weeks ago, the Board of Education decided to support a proposal to lay off 192 RTA members: Social Workers, Guidance Counselors, Speech and Hearing, ESOL, Special Education, and other teachers. They also determined to support the reduction or elimination of programs that serve, among others, Young Mothers, English Language Learners, refugees, Bilingual, and Special Education students. And now they are considering closing two more schools (four total) and laying off another 88.5 teachers. Altogether, the proposed teacher layoffs represent 82% of all staff reductions – whereas teachers represent, by far, a significantly lesser percentage of the cost in the District’s budget.
Cutting as close to the classroom as possible seems to be the RCSD’s persistent and unfortunate choice. At the same time, they fiercely refuse to make any significant reductions at Central Office and in administrative overhead. This reckless strategy can only lead to further undermine the public’s confidence in the City School District and to a continued exodus of families and students from city schools.
We must continue and intensify our efforts to oppose the proposed cuts of the needed educators and the vital services that they provide to our students. This will be the main topic for deliberation at next Tuesday’s virtual meeting of the RTA Representative Assembly – our union’s only policy-making body. We will then let you know what it is that you could do to join in this struggle. Meanwhile, please do continue to email the school board <BoardOfEducation@rcsdk12.org> and urge them to do the opposite of what is being recommended: tell them to spare our students and to make the cuts as far away as possible from the classroom and from the students.
We expect to receive the details about the proposed teacher cuts by the end of this week. We will then share that information with you. We will, of course, continue do all we can to avoid or at least mitigate the proposed cuts of teachers and the reduction of essential services to our students.
Our solidarity remains our strongest asset. Thank you for all that you continue to do, every day, for your students. Stay safe.
Adam Urbanski, RTA President