In the Rochester City School District (RCSD), we strive for the success of all youth, and we value equity, cohesiveness and positive school climates. Fiscal stewardship, transparency and stability are vital to our students’ success. Our financial future depends on identifying equitable and sustainable programs as we operate in a climate of change, flat revenue streams, increasing student needs and growing enrollments in charter schools.
In the last 10 years, New York State (NYS) Foundation Aid has fallen short of the formula-driven allocation. The NYS funding formula developed in 2007 was intended to drive more money into the high-need districts by giving greater weight to students designated as English Language Learners, students in poverty and students with disabilities. As such, three of the large urban districts (Rochester, Syracuse and Buffalo) are among the poorest districts with the largest shortfalls per student in the state. With Rochester, the poorest of the three, realizing a shortfall of approximately $100M annually.
Nearly 13.5% of the District’s budget depends on grant revenues, but this funding is neither predictable, stable nor timely. Over the last two years the District lost $31M in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding, that was partially offset by an increase in state grant dollars of nearly $20M. While the District continues to invest more money and resources into programs, the current expenditure patterns, if not changed, will increase 6% in 2017-18, and revenues are projected to decrease 1.5%.
Given these variables, the preparation of an annual budget is challenging and often overwhelming. The District’s 2017-18 budget gap, with its current Programs, is expected to be nearly $65M. The District will be forced to make difficult choices to remedy the structural disparity and allow for the development of an affordable long-range sustainable plan that meets the needs of our students.
The goal of this 100-day plan is to focus on aligning resources for student achievement. The use of data and performance measures, combined with student weightings, will allow us to make strategically informed decisions to move the District forward. We will recommend a series of steps to provide for the alignment of resources that address student achievement