For the last several weeks, we have been trying to get the District to enact measures that would reduce disruption and violence in our schools. In response, the District has lashed out against teachers and offered empty rhetoric instead of any real action or real leadership. Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small accused teachers of promoting a “false narrative” to vilify their students. And a school board member alleged that Rochester teachers don’t understand their own students and don’t care about them. All this is because we want our schools to be safe and to provide more social and emotional support for our students and more security for our schools. And while the District leadership remains in denial and disconnected from reality, our students remain unsupported and our schools remain unsafe.

To address all this, we have formed a coalition with the other three unions within the District representing paraprofessionals, non-teaching employees and school administrators. Together, we have offered formal proposals that would make our schools safer. The District responded with excuses, delays, and accusations. And even when they considered our proposals worthy, the District’s representatives said that they can’t implement them because the State-appointed Monitor and their own Chief Financial Officer are not signing off on the needed funds – despite the fact that our District has received $196.5 million in extra aid from the Federal American Rescue Plan Act and an additional $87.5 million from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriation Act. 

Next week, the RTA Representative Assembly will consider what further collective actions we could take to address the pressing need to make our schools safe for teaching and learning and what you could do to help. Meanwhile, please let your RTA Faculty Representative(s) know your concerns, ideas, and suggestions. Also, tomorrow you will receive an RTA Survey on Lack of Safety at Rochester City Schools. I urge you to complete that confidential, brief and important survey. 

Thank you for all that you continue to do, every day, to support your students and each other. Together we will make our schools safer and more effective for all our students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President