New RPS budget proposal has less job cuts in Rochester schools

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(ABC 6 News) – In Tuesday night’s meeting, the Rochester Public School board discussed its newest budget proposal which calls for less RPS positions being cut than originally proposed.

According to John Carlson, the district’s chief administration officer, it is currently estimated that full-time equivalent positions will decrease from 2,677 to 2,573 from school year 2022-2023 to 2023-2024. RPS said the reduction of 104 full-time equivalent positions may yet still change.

The board said many of the positions they’re looking to cut are already vacant, with the number of employees expected to be laid off at 8.

The eight positions that will be layoffs or “unrequested leave of absence” are anticipated to be contained to only two employee groups – operations professionals (5) and teachers (3).

Dr. Kent Pekel, superintendent of RPS, said of the job cuts, “we know these are difficult reductions and aren’t reductions anyone wants to make, but one’s we are making with care to advance the strategic plan and do it as humane a way as possible.”

Hiring will still happen in certain areas such as custodians, nurses, special education teachers, student nutrition services, transportation ESPs, and more.

Staffing meetings between principals and administration leaders were completed from Feb. 16 to Mar. 1, according to Carlson. Displacement notifications were made shortly thereafter letting some employees know that they still may have a job, but not the current job setting off the process of being able to select a different position within the organization. Also, staff that have the rights to transfer to other open positions have already done so. However, Carlson noted there a few that do not have those rights along with some positions that will be placed on an “unrequested leave of absence” and be called back at a future time when a position opens up.

In February, the board’s budget proposal included a reduction of around 77 teacher positions, which would save around $7.7 million. Over the past decade RPS has added staff at a higher rate than it has added students; around 565 in the last decade, according to Carlson.

RELATED: RPS board approves $14M in budget cuts

A final version of the budget will be finalized on May 22 and presented to the school board on May 30. The school board will then vote on the budget on June 20.