A local Rochester City School District union is asking the district to hold off on cuts, following New York State slashing all state aid to school districts across the state by 20 percent.
Bente Local 2419 is a RCSD support staff union of 1,200 members, including food, security, custodial, transportation, and clerical services. And in an order to offset a 20 percent cut in state funding of $128 million, the RCSD announced cuts that would impact these services and the union’s members: more than $6 million in food and transportation alone.
“A 20-percent cut to the RCSD is not just inequitable, it would completely destroy the structure of the Rochester City School District," union president Dan DiClemente said. "It’s impossible to make those cuts without making staffing cuts, and a lot of that staff will look elsewhere.”
DiClemente is asking the RCSD to hold off on any cuts until after Congress is back in session in September, and a federal relief package is passed that could potentially help the RCSD close the 20 percent cut to state aid.
“Looking to make any cuts right now would be a wrong-headed move, and it would hurt students and families at a time that we don’t know what congress is going to do yet,” DiClemente said.
And Congressman Joe Morelle said Wednesday that he wouldn’t support any bill that doesn’t have adequate funding for state and local governments. The HEROES Act passed in the House – for example — would give billions to New York State alone.
“It’s not just to be able to give money to our government partners, it’s really because those dollars flow down to school districts, to pay teachers, to pay staff and administrators, to make sure we can continue educating our children,” Morelle said.
In the meantime, DiClemente says his union will submit a plan to the RCSD superintendent no later than early next week to prove why his members are still useful even during virtual learning.
“You know, kids still need to be fed. We think they should be getting hot meals instead of the cold sandwiches and cold breakfasts that they are receiving," DiClemente said. "If the district makes a decision to go all remote learning, that shouldn’t affect the kind of nutrition the kids get."
He says if cuts come, the RCSD will not only lose hard-working employees, but students too.
“A lot of our members are city residents who send their kids to city schools," DiClemente said. "So I don’t think they should be doing things of this nature right now until they see what happens when Congress gets back in session.”