The Rochester City School District is really bad with math. First, they announced a budget deficit of $199M. More recently, they are poised to “right-size” the District because they claim, we could get by with half the teachers we now have. Neither of these calculations is either true or realistic.
Soon after the District went public on October 20th with their wildly inflated budget deficit projection, we met with Superintendent Myers Small, RCSD’s Finance Director Carleen Pierce and the State-appointed Monitor Shelley Jallow to present them with reasons for disputing their exaggerated deficit projection. They failed to defend their indefensible position. Subsequently, and in conjunction with the unions representing non-teaching employees (BENTE), paraprofessionals (RAP) and school administrators (ASAR), we issued an Open Letter to the Board of Education accusing the District of manufacturing this crisis. We backed up our position by sharing with them a summary analysis of their projections conducted by fiscal experts at the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) and at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union.
At the Board of Education’s Finance Committee meeting last Tuesday, the District began backpedaling from the projection that they announced in late October. They are now claiming a $76M deficit – probably still exaggerated but a far cry (61.8% less) from the $199M that they projected only a month ago. You’d think that the school board would be outraged by this fiasco and hold the District’s top administrators accountable for the outrageous attempt to mislead the public. But they didn’t. I guess accountability is reserved for teachers only and never for those who continue to mismanage the budget.
Blaming their fiscal woes on teachers and their union, the District and the State-appointed Monitor are now making the argument that our schools are grossly overstaffed and that our students have too many teachers and class sizes that are far too small. They are laying the foundation for yet another round of layoffs and reduction of services for our students – only this time on a grander scale.
We cannot allow this to happen. In collaboration with parents and the Rochester community, including the Rochester Community Coalition to Save Our Schools (ROC-SOS), we will oppose this blatant and misguided attempt to undermine our schools. We will soon reach out to you with a comprehensive plan and with specific suggestions as to how you can help. I know that we can count on your continued solidarity and on your active participation in this ongoing struggle to spare our students and to save our schools.