Notes from RCSD Budget Strategy Meeting, Fri. March 18

On Friday evening a bunch of parents, teachers and community members from all 4 quadrants of the city met and made some progress getting brought up to speed on the innards of the budget and the budget process. That’s the first step of a strategic planning process. Stay tuned for the next strategic planning meeting.

Dan Demarle – Report from parents who met to look at budget: Meeting again Tuesday, March 22nd, 6pm at Boulder Café on Genesee Street. RCSD says there is a $80 million budget gap.

-The district owes $300 million and pays a big debt service on that

-40% of the budget goes to schools and 60% goes to the rest

-New budget process makes every principal the CFO for the school.

-The School Board has a budget of $1.5 million – bigger budget than several schools. They have 22 staff.

-Chief of staff has a $3 million budget. What is this for?

-There is no indication from the Central Office whether any of the Central Office funds or non-school budget is being cut.

-Suburban districts are eliminating middle schools in an attempt to save money during the budget crunch – however Superintendant Brizard is opening new schools and expanding from K-6 to K-8. What is the cost of the new schools and the new grade configurations? Does it have to happen this year?

-Charter schools get less per student but that formula is changing and they will be getting more.

-It’s important to understand that although the Central Office says there’s a $80 million dollar budget deficit – but that is there version of the budget. The RTA says the budget gap is more like a $20 million.

-The RCSD has 100 more administrators than Buffalo. At an average of $100,000 that’s an extra $10 million that Rochester is paying administrators.

-Each school pays $89,000 for a Rochester City Police Officer.

-Brizard’s budget document is half as big as previous superintendant’s documents. The line items are no longer visible. It is more difficult to determine where the money is being spent.





















    Glenny Williams – report on budget process

    1. New York State provides the bulk of RCSD aid (see budget pie above). In his current budget proposal Cuomo is proposing cutting RCSD funds 1.9%. Statewide he is proposing cutting schools by $1.5 billion while proposing tax cut to people earning over a quarter million a year (Cuomo is proposing allowing the current temporary income tax surcharge to expire).
      1. The state budget is controlled by Three Men in a Room – the State Senate Majority Leader (Senator Dean Skelos, R), the Assembly Speaker (Assemblyman Silver, D) and Governor Cuomo. The Governor submits a proposed budget and then negotiates with the Senate and the Assembly.
      2. Seventy seven Assembly members (Democrats) called on the Governor and Senate to continue the millionaire’s tax/temporary income tax surcharge which would generate $5 billion in revenue to New York State (which could then be used for education). The Senate is controlled by the Republicans and they are against keeping the temporary income tax surcharge.
    2. Locally, the Superintendant submits a budget proposal to the School Board. He submits the budget at the March 29th Board meeting. The board can accept or reject the budget.
    3. Once approved the RCSD budget then goes to the Rochester City Council. The Council can then approve it, send it back or change it. The City Council usually rubber stamps the budget.

    Budget Calendar

    Tuesday, March 29th, 6:00 p.m. – Superintendent presents the proposed budget to the Board of Education.

    Tuesday, April 5th, 6:00 p.m. – Board of Education’s first Public Hearing on proposed budget.

    Thursday, April 7th, 6:00 p.m. – Board Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole, first round of budget deliberations.

    Tuesday, April 12th, 6:00 p.m.- Board of Education’s second Public Hearing on proposed budget.

    Thursday, April 14th, 6:00 p.m. – Board Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole, second round of budget deliberations.

    Thursday, April 21st – following Policy and Audit Committee Meetings which begin at 5:30 Board Finance Committee Meeting of the Whole.

    Thursday, April 28th, 6:30 p.m. – Board of Education Monthly Business Meeting and Budget Adoption.


    Colin O’Malley – Strategy Discussion

    • Questions –
      • what is the true budget gap number?
      • Is the funding formula equitable between schools?
    • Budget deficit questions lead to deficit-based conversations – we should be talking about what we want for our children
    • Report says administrators don’t have staff confidence and there was low participation among administrators
    • They are balancing the budget on the back of the students
    • The new budget formula pits ELL and Special Ed students against Gen Ed students
    • The current budget battle reflects larger national/international forces – Shock doctrine – business owners and corporate world take advantage of budget crises to push for a wish list (Brizard is a Broad Institute Fellow. Eli Broad is a billionaire education “reformer”)
    • We need to talk to parents to share this information
    • The schools aren’t as friendly. A lot has changed.
    • We need to protect funding for music and arts and electives and make sure the cuts are as far from the classroom as possible.


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