More than 150 Rochester City School District teachers learned Friday that they may be out of a job in just 25 days.
It all stems from job cuts to try to fill the district’s $30 million deficit. After students left school for the day on Friday, principals hand delivered the news to their teachers.
Rochester Teachers Association (RTA) President Adam Urbanski said the letters informed teachers that they would be terminated as of January 1, if the Board of Education approves the cuts.
Urbanksi confirmed that most of the schools in the district were affected, and at least 115 of the layoffs are elementary school teachers. He says primary schools are most affected because it will be easy to combine small class sizes there.
"As a teacher, it's devastating. This profession isn't something you go into thinking I'm going to make money or, you know, you go into it to make a difference," said Deana Jackson, an early pre-kindergarten teacher with the district.
That opportunity to make a difference in students could be coming to an end for some teachers in Rochester.
"It's really heartbreaking to hear stories of the bonds that children formed with these teachers and how distressed the students are to learn that when they come back from the Christmas break, their teacher will not be there," Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association added.
Rise Community School, formerly School #14, had the most layoffs. Fourteen individuals were given the pink slip.
"So if you have huge class sizes in elementary schools that then sets the children back because they don't get individualized attention that they need,” said Urbanski.
Schools With the Most Layoffs:
- RISE Community School: 13
- John James Audubon Elementary School #33: 10
- East Upper & Lower School: 8
- Joseph. C. Wilson Foundation Academy: 7
- Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary School #45: 7
- George Mather Forbes School #4: 6
- Dr. Louis A. Cerulli Elementary School #34: 6
In addition to the 155 teachers that could jobless, roughly 180 teachers will be transferred to other schools or positions.
Superintendent Terry Dade posted a video on social media after notices went out.
A couple of GoFundMe accounts have been created to help the district and teachers.
Cty school district parent Bryan Babcock hopes to raise $10 million to help keep teachers on until June.
“If we could end up only saving a few positions, we want to obviously save them all, but if we can only save a few we can do whatever we can,” he said.
Teacher Deana Jackson created a fundraiser to help impacted teachers with expenses until they find another job.
"I don't have a goal for what I want to raise for teachers. It's just to be that shining light for them. Whatever we can give to them so that they know that those of us who are still in schools, still have their back,” said Jackson.
While morale is low for teachers right now, there is something holding them together.
"So I think what's holding us together is those faces and those families who want us there," Jackson added. "And who understand the amount of effort we put into their lives, and it's so much more than just their education. It's their future."
The Board of Education is scheduled to meet and vote on cuts December 19. Urbanski said teachers and parents plan to rally the same day.
This is just the first round of layoffs. Urbanski said the next round will most like come at the end of the school year.
RTA has planned a special session for impacted teachers on Monday, December 9. It will take place at 30 N. Union Street (Suite 301). Teachers can show up any time between 2:30-6 p.m.
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- RCSD Budget Shortfall Estimated at $30 Million