AMOUNTS OWED IN FOUNDATION AID:
Brighton School District: $8.4 million
Rochester City School District: $86.1 million
Rochester Teachers Association President Adam Urbanski walks through the halls of School 2 in the city, taking it all in. It’s an elementary school now. He taught here from 1978 to 1981, back when it was a high school.
Asked how the school compares now to back then, he thinks for a moment. Then, he says he’s struck by a few things: the lack of resources, the aging of the building and the current air of despair.
Hard times have hit Rochester.
Massive financial constraints have led to deep midyear layoffs that have decimated the district. And if that weren’t bad enough, Rochester schools are now owed $86 million in state Foundation Aid — money that could help the beleaguered district fill critical staff positions, provide children the resources they desperately need and ease crowded classrooms.
“We are treading water right now,” said Urbanski. “Without additional funding, we may not even meet payroll.”
NYSUT officers visited schools in Rochester, and in the suburban district of Brighton, as part of the union’s ongoing Fund Our Future bus tour which aims to call attention to the state’s failure to appropriately fund New York’s public schools. Across the state, 400 districts are owed $3.4 billion in Foundation Aid. NYSUT also aims to highlight the need for other state revenues to combat educational inequality.
"The switching of teachers out of positions; losing teachers to other buildings — kids lost a lot of support.”
~ Kristine Elliott, teacher, School 2, Rochester City School District
“Since the cuts, some kids have not been themselves,” said Kristine Hooker, a teacher aide at School 2.
Teachers are struggling to regroup, too.
“We are doing more with less ... our students need more intervention ... we need programs, text books. We are missing bits and pieces,” said School 2 teacher Laurie Marsocci.
Words | Matt Smith
Images | Dan Cappellazzo
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