Press Release: Rochester Parents, Teachers: Spare Our Students

Rochester Parents, Teachers: Spare Our Students

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Dec. 4, 2019 — Rochester teachers, paraprofessionals, city school parents and families, and community members will rally outside the Rochester City School District Offices from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Thursday to oppose mid-year staffing cuts that would increase class sizes, disrupt relationships and eliminate services for city students.

The rally outside the district offices (131 W. Broad St.) will take place prior to the school board meeting that begins at 6 p.m. and comes as the district proposes personnel cuts in schools citywide, including 152 teachers and 22 paraprofessionals.

“It is unacceptable for RCSD to even consider making classroom cuts in our schools,” RCSD parent Mercedes Phelan said. “This is a high poverty school district and our students need all the supports possible. New York State owes Rochester schools $85 million in Foundation Aid. Instead of cutting services for students and further reducing educational opportunities, the district should be focused on advocating for the money that’s owed to our district.”

“This is not cutting as far away from our students and from the classroom as possible,” Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski said. “It’s fantasy to think that these mid-year cuts won’t be disruptive to our students and won’t have a devastating impact on their ability to learn. Perhaps the Central Office bureaucracy should look deeper at itself before trying to balance the budget on the backs of students and teachers.”

“Our children don’t deserve the chaos that would result from these staff cuts,” Rochester Association of Paraprofessionals President Angie Rivera said. “Past mismanagement is no excuse for disruptive mid-year cuts that will take away from the educational services students need and deserve.”

Layoff notices are expected to be handed down this week. Educators and parents say the cuts would hit hard the students who need high-quality schools that serve their diverse needs.

“My students look to adults who care for them in unending ways,” said Michael Lynk, a middle school Spanish teacher. “We would be punishing these students by displacing their teachers. What our students need are the skilled and caring teachers that they already have — that know them by face and name, to and through graduation.”

The RTA and RAP are urging parents and community members to contact the school board prior to its meeting on Dec. 19 and urge them to reject the district’s plan to lay off staff in the coming months. The unions are advocating for:

  • cuts from the Central Office and district bureaucracy, if necessary, to keep the cuts away from the classroom to minimize disruption;
  • the district to lobby the state for more funding and delay action as much as possible until Rochester receives more state support; and
  • the district to postpone cuts until the end of the school year when they would be less disruptive, when the district will have more information about the budget moving forward and when there will be more certainty about additional state funding

New York State United Teachers is a statewide union with more than 600,000 members in education, human services and health care. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the AFL-CIO.