The Rochester City School District board of education has voted yes to the proposed teacher cuts in an attempt to address the budget crisis facing the district.
The board approved the cuts in a 5-2 vote. Board President Van Henri White and Commissioner Natalie Sheppard cast the dissenting votes.
Subsequently, 109 teachers will be laid off, effective January 1. The decision is in light of weeks of protest from the Rochester Teachers Association along with students and staff from dozens of schools across Rochester.
At the start of the day Thursday, as many as 168 staff members could have lost their jobs, but the district found money from federal grants to save additional teachers.
The reductions in potential layoffs were done with the help of the New York State Education Department, which assisted RCSD with the federal title grant process.
The department helped find federal funds RCSD is able to apply towards for the retention of teachers through the end of the current budget year ending June 30.
During the board meeting, some members of the crowd were loud at times as emotions were high before a decision was made.
The board retreated into executive session to let the crowd cool down.
Jason Valenti, a fifth grade teacher at School 39, said two of his coworkers will lose their jobs with the cuts.
“When you think about the worst time of year to have this come to you, you think about the end of the year, you think about Christmas time…it’s naturally a time of celebration and it is already stressful for a lot of people but this is causing a bad kind of stress,” Valenti said.
Now, the district will still have to address a remaining deficit of $24.8 million. RCSD Superintendent Terry Dade said it’s too early to know the classroom impact.
What is known, however, is that 109 teachers will say goodbye to their students Friday.