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Dade Scheduled to Present Much-Awaited 2020-21 RCSD Budget

Patti Singer
pattisinger@minorityreporter.net

RCSD Superintendent Terry Dade confers with chief of staff Annmarie Lehner during the March 10, 2020 board meeting. File photo

After a one-week delay, Rochester City School District Superintendent Terry Dade is scheduled to present the 2020-21 budget to the school board during its online meeting, beginning at 5:30 p.m. March 24.

The presentation and subsequent board meeting can be viewed on the RCSD YouTube and Facebook pages.

The budget originally had been scheduled to be presented March 17, but the board postponed Dade’s presentation so it could discuss district plans for meeting students’ needs outside the classroom because of COVID-19. It also was the first time the board met online, with each member logging in from their own space.

The budget is much-anticipated.

Since September, when the district announced a shortfall from the 2018-2019 school year, the financial problems have increased. On March 10, he said that the 2020-21 budget would have to close a potential $61 million gap. He put the total shortfall for previous, current and future years at $125 million.

Dade said on March 18 that he still was awaiting word on state aid. He said he’s expecting any money to come wrapped tightly in strings.

After Dade presents the budget, it will be posted on BoardDocs, which is on the Board of Education page on the district website (rcsdk12.org). Meeting materials also are posted on BoardDocs.

You also can look for the “budget” tab on the board page.

Unlike what happens in the towns, city residents do not vote on the school budget. In previous years, the district has held town hall meetings to explain the document and answer questions. Those meetings this year will have to move online.

Beatriz LeBron, chair of the finance committee, said the board is working to set up an online session that would include an interactive question-and-answer format.

LeBron said the district is not required by law to include public hearings on the budget. She said other districts in different states have declared a state of emergency in their district, which allowed for a waiver of their policies. She said the public comment is board policy, and it would have to pass a motion for change.

As for public comment in general at board meetings, the pre-COVID format allowed for speakers to address the board before it started its business meeting. Comments now can be submitted via email.

Commentators must provide their name; whether they are a student, parent, community member or staff person; phone number and the topic of the comment. Comments must be submitted by noon on the day of the meeting. Send emails to BoardOf Education@rcsdk12.org. No anonymous comments will be read into the public record. For more on the comment process, leave a message at (585) 262-8525, and a representative of the board will return the call.