ROCHESTER, N.Y. — More than 200 union support staff employees in the Rochester city schools have been notified they may lose their jobs. It’s part of a 20 percent across-the-board budget cut in city schools, brought on by a major deficit that’s been compounded by state aid cuts due to the pandemic.
It’s said if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life. That’s how Leonela Malinao, Jasmin Gonzalez, and Marian Aviles feel about their jobs. All three work in food services in the Rochester City School District.
“My job is so important to me,” said Aviles, who’s worked as cook manager at School 20 for 13 years.
These three ladies are passionate about their work.
“We love our jobs,” said Gonzalez, who has spent five years at School 17.
“I'm proud of my job,” said Malinao, who is cook manager at School 28. “I’m proud of the way how I do my job.”
All three were among the 221 BENTE union workers who received word this week that their jobs will disappear. The non-teaching support staffers are among those losing their jobs as part of Rochester City School District budget cuts.
“I feel so sad,” said Gonzalez.
The pandemic made an already bad city school budget situation worse. BENTE represents 12,00 RCSD employees. The job cuts are part of a district-wide, across-the-board 20 percent job reduction announced this summer by Superintendent Leslie Myers-Small, to offset the district’s fiscal woes, which were compounded by a reduction in state aid due to the pandemic.
For those on the losing end, the cuts hurt.
“We are not there for just a paycheck,” said Malinao. “We are there because we love the job.”
Meal servers say their jobs are important, because in the poverty-stricken city schools many children depend on them for a good meal. The union is asking the district to reconsider the cuts.
“It's a lot of people who lose their jobs and families who will lose their food, too,” said Aviles. “Because if we don’t work, who’s going to feed them?”
The city school district says the cuts must still be approved by the school board. That vote is scheduled for next week. If they’re approved, the job cuts would take effect next month.