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RCSD plans additional budget cuts 

The Rochester City School District is making further cuts to its 2020-21 budget, following warnings from Governor Andrew Cuomo that unless the state gets additional funding from the federal government, it may have to cut aid to schools, municipalities, and hospitals by 20 percent.

Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small outlined the changes Tuesday during an update she provided to the Board of Education’s Finance Committee and said that she and her administration are taking all necessary steps, “however uncomfortable they may be, to restore the financial stability of this district."

Among the steps she announced: taking immediate action to cut all department and school budgets by 20 percent, including staff furloughs, a hiring freeze, an overtime freeze, and a freeze on substitute teachers. The administration will also provide the Board of Education with cost analyses of all contracts and collective bargaining unit agreements, and will increase scrutiny of other expenditures.

The district is facing a structural budget deficit projected at $59.3 million during this fiscal year, and a projected $74 million budget gap for the 2021-22 school year, Myers-Small said.

Late last week, the state notified RCSD officials that the district faced a potential 20 percent cut in state funding, which would be a loss of $128 million, as well as cuts in food and transportation services funding projected at over $6 million.

Governors from across the country, including Cuomo, have for weeks been pushing for the federal government to provide states and local governments with more aid to help plug revenue gaps resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

Congressional leaders and the White House have been negotiating a relief and stimulus package that could provide additional aid to states, but they've so far failed to reach an agreement. The Senate adjourned for recess last week.

Randy Gorbman is the news director at WXXI News, a media partner of CITY. He can be reached at rgorbman@wxxi.org.

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