RPS board approves $14M in budget cuts

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(ABC 6 News) – Dozens of teachers within Rochester Public Schools could be losing their jobs due to budget cuts. Tuesday night, the school board voted to cut $14 million from its budget, part of that proposal includes eliminating dozens of jobs.

Last year, the district projected they would have a $7 million deficit. That number has since gone up to $14 million for the 2023 – 2024 school year.

In a letter to the board, Superintendent Kent Pekel gave a few reasons why: 

He says 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 John Carlson, the district’s chief administration officer.

State and federal funding has not kept pace with inflation for several years. The district has to allocate $15 million from their general fund for special education, money the board says should be coming from the government, especially given the $17 billion state budget surplus.

“I appreciate the ire towards the state government for like, where’s our money? Because I don’t view it as a budget surplus so much as that’s unpaid service to us,” said Board Member Jessica Garcia.

The board did not vote on which staff positions to cut specifically, but a memo to the board by Pekel explained some positions potentially on the line.

The proposal includes a reduction of around 77 teacher positions, which would save around $7.7 million. There are many other proposals in the memo, from keeping buildings a little colder to save on heating, to increasing athletic and activities admission fees. The board will vote on a final budget in June.

The memo to the board can be read here.