Dear Colleagues,

Last Friday was one of the saddest day for all of us in the Rochester City School District, especially for our colleagues and for our students. Despite the eloquent remarks by parents, students and teachers at last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, and despite the fact that several hundred of us demonstrated our opposition to the ill-conceived and cruel plan for mid-year cuts, the Board of Education is ignoring the collective wisdom of teachers, parents and students.

But we’re not giving up. We have a much stronger alternative proposal that would not disrupt relationships and learning for our students. Our plan calls for delaying any cuts until we exhaust our efforts to get additional State funding and until the District fulfills their commitment to cut as far away from the classroom as possible. Our plan is already resonating with parents and students. So here’s what we are continuing to do to accelerate our efforts on behalf of our students:

– Lobbying for additional State aid. That’s the real answer to our fiscal predicament. But the New York State Legislature is in recess now and reconvenes in early January. Such efforts for “spin-up funding” legislation succeeded in the past for our District and for other districts in New York State. The District’s rushed and arbitrary timeline for immediate layoffs, increased class sizes and devastating reductions of services to our students is both unnecessary and oblivious to the welfare of our students. It confuses doing it right with doing it right away. We will continue to try to persuade the Board to join us in first pursuing additional State funding instead.

 Rally Again For Our Students on December 19th. This time in even greater numbers, parents, teachers and other District staff will rally in front of RCSD’s Central Office (131 West Broad Street) to reiterate our opposition to the District’s current plan for mid-year devastation of our students’ education. The rally will begin at 4:30 pm and will continue until the Board of Education meeting that begins at 6 pm. We urge teachers to join us for the rally and to sign up to speak (262-8525) to the Board. But even if you do not sign up to speak, please be sure to come to support those who will.

– Send a letter to the Board of Education.  By clicking on this link <

NYSUT Member Action CenterNYSUT Member Action

you can access a quick and easy way to send a letter directly to the RCSD Board urging them to cut from the Central Office bureaucracy but keep cuts away from our students; to lobby the State for the needed additional funding; and to postpone disruptive mid-year cuts until the end of the school year when they’d be less disruptive, when we’ll have more information about the budget, and when we’ll have more certainty about additional State funding.You will see the full text of the letter after you populate the field and before sending.

– Parents and students also taking action. The parents of our students are organizing on-line communities and taking other actions to support their children and the teachers of their children. They do not accept the District’s plan to address the fiscal deficit at the expense of their children, our students. And, at several schools, the students themselves are planning walk-outs and other forms of protest. While teachers are not permitted to organize or lead such forms of demonstration by students, teachers can and should support the democratic rights of students for free speech, self=advocacy and self-expression.

– Rumors about concessions. The District’s fiscal woes cannot be solved by concessions from teachers or other District employees.  Nor has the District even approached RTA with a proposal to negotiate concessions. In fact, the District has not agreed to meet for negotiations since last September. We want to resume negotiations with the District and have an open mind to any proposal they wish to forward – even to proposals which we may ultimately not be able to accept. The so-called concession from another bargaining unit is not what it appears to be, saves the District virtually nothing, and is being used to bring undue pressure on teachers and other District employees.

We will continue to keep you informed and remain grateful for your unswerving support. There has never been a greater need for solidarity among us, with our students, with their families, and with our entire community. We will succeed in our advocacy for our students only if we remain determined and united. Together we must persuade the Board of Education to do the right thing: postpone any mid-year disruption, seek additional State funding, and spare our students.

Adam Urbanski, RTA President