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Rochester school district’s budget priority: teachers 

In her first budget, Rochester schools Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams is trying to make do with more: more money and more teachers. Deane-Williams proposed a $791 million budget for the 2017-2018 school year, an increase of nearly $65 million over the current budget. She presented her proposal to school board members at a special meeting last night.
click to enlarge Rochester school board Vice President Cynthia Elliott (far left), Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, and school board President Van White - PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN
  • Rochester school board Vice President Cynthia Elliott (far left), Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, and school board President Van White

In some ways, the budget emphasizes priorities already set forth by Deane-Williams’ predecessors and prior plans to improve student achievement. For instance, she wants to increase the commitment to reading proficiency by adding 126 reading teachers. And she wants to support students’ social and emotional health by adding more social workers and counselors.

More than 140 of the positions in her budget are new, but she also wants to move nearly two dozen administrators from central office into teaching positions in the schools.

Deane-Williams started with a projected budget gap of almost $55 million. That figure has been sharply reduced through a variety of proposed cost-saving measures that range from cutting substitute teachers and consultants to reducing the number of coffee pots and refrigerators the district uses. And she expects to get around $12 million in increased state funding.

However, Deane-Williams is still left with a budget gap of more than $17 million. And it’s not yet clear where that money will come from.

Public hearings are scheduled for Tuesday, March 28, and Tuesday, April 25. Both will be held at the district’s central office, at 131 West Broad Street, at 6 p.m.

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