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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

RORE Budget Response and Demands 2021-22

Rochester Organization of Rank and File Educators (RORE) 2021-2022 Budget Response and Demands

Over the past decade and a half Rochester City Schools have been intentionally deprived of funding. This upcoming year, after struggling through a global pandemic, our district has a unique opportunity to start to undo the state's denial of  the Foundation Aid owed to RCSD for 14 years and the City of Rochester’s stagnant RCSD funding for 15 years.

RCSD has the highest categories in Monroe County for economically disadvantaged population (90%), the Students with Disabilities (21.4%), English Language Learners (15%), and transportation costs per student ($2,225),  as well as increasing Charter School tuition costs ($95.8 Million).  

(Children’s Agenda, April 2021)

The RCSD has been caught in a cycle of underfunding resulting in massive layoffs of staff and downsizing of schools, specialized programs, extracurricular activities, and other opportunities and resources for students.

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small and State Monitor, Shelly Jallow, have approached the 2021-2022 budget from a deficit standpoint. They are quoting low enrollment, disregarding how the pandemic has played a large factor in Pre-K and K enrollment this past year, as well as the loss of programs and opportunities that may lead families to seek alternative education options for their students. They are quoting a student to teacher ratio of 10:1, while ignoring the number of educators who serve as co-teachers, resource providers, and teachers on special assignment. The specialized programs are required to have smaller class sizes. Educational research tells us that students perform better with smaller class sizes, rather than classes filled to the maximum allowed capacity. They are questioning sustainability, not taking into account the fact that we need to invest in the district in order to see improvement.

With the Federal Stimulus money that is being given to the RCSD this year, as well as the newly guaranteed Foundation Aid from the State, RCSD leadership is in a position to invest these funds. In providing enhanced resources and opportunities for our students. We need to provide our students and families with schools that offer them the desired support, enrichment, and opportunity.

The Superintendent and District need to be transparent about where the Stimulus and Foundation Aid funds are going, and how these funds are going to make positive change in the district. As the budget is developed, focus should also be given, and clarity provided, as to how funding will be equitably divided among all schools in the district, so that all students are receiving the same level of opportunities and resources.

1)      Increased staffing:

  Hire more BENTE support staff and offer a living wage, including custodial staff to maintain a high level of sanitation cleanliness in our buildings as we return more students to schools as there is still pandemic risk, cafeteria staff so that we may provide our students with high quality, healthy breakfast and lunch, and bus drivers as their will be increase in bus routes and extracurricular after school activities.

   Hire more counselors, social workers, and members of the ROC Restorative Team to provide extra Social Emotional support for students as they return to school following the pandemic. This could involve creating permanent or temporary partnerships with community programs, such as the Center for Youth, to help fill this need.

  Hire Intervention teachers to support students in Math and English at all levels across the District.

  Invest in recruiting and retaining racially, ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse staff.

  Hire more art, music, library, and physical education teachers so elementary students can have art for more than a half of the school year.

2)      Extended Day, and Year Round Enrichment Opportunities for Students:

  Provide a “Ramp Up” program leading up to the beginning of the school year, offering the opportunity for students who have remained remote during the 20-21 school year to reacclimate to being in the school building. This program could also offer arts enrichment, resource, time with counselors, and other Social Emotional opportunities.

  Provide and/or invest in summer opportunities for students including arts enrichment, athletics, internships, community building, and supplementary academic enrichment.

  Begin development and implementation to provide year-round arts education in our Elementary Schools.

  Use extended school day time to provide Social Emotional support including free play for young students, opportunities for counselors to meet with small groups, arts enrichment, and restorative/mindfulness practice.

3)      Increased Staff Support:

  Provide increased, paid BOCES level training for paraprofessionals and teachers aides.

  Fully fund, and provide Anti-Racist and Anti-Bias Training for all staff, including District Leadership.

  Invest in the training and implementation of a more culturally responsive curriculum.

  Increase classroom funds so that teachers may provide better support and materials for their students, and standardize funds for all classrooms across the district.

We believe that our students will benefit most if we think intentionally and with urgency while we have the funding, and approach our budget decisions from a standpoint of investment rather than deficit. The above list offers suggestions that may appear bold to some, but they are essential to providing our students with enriching and engagement learning opportunities.  


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