Rochester City Schools Hold Budget Open House
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It's the school district's new approach to gathering feedback. An intimate setting where parents can share their input one on one with district board members.
"I think this was a great forum to try to get that feedback and ensure that it goes into the planning process for the budget," said Gian Carlo Giannini, a parent.
The room was divided into different tables for discussion from athletics to facility management. Parents shared their ideas on how to close the district's $50.2 million budget gap.
"It's a serious problem but it's not a crisis. We do believe we can solve this problem in a way that doesn't harm our students," said Bolgen Vargas, RCSD Superintendent.
Vargas was in Albany last week, talking about the needs of the district in light of the governor's proposed budget. Right now, the state does not provide funding to transport students living within a mile and half of their school. Vargas is asking the state to lift that mileage restriction.
"Right now, our transportation budget is $58 million. That's a lot of money and we are hoping we can reduce that cost," said Vargas.
Vargas says families are choosing a school outside of their neighborhood so their children don't have to walk alone.
"It's certainly not a question if you could send a kindergartener or first grader to walk a mile, so pretending that it is has put us in this contradictory situation for years," said Mary Adams, a board member.
Vargas says this year's budget proposes a $4 million savings on facilities by not renting out unnecessary space.
Parents at Monday night's meeting said they wanted the student curriculum to focus more on the arts.
"There was a time a few years ago when a lot of these things was taken away and Dr. Vargas has done a nice job of being in favor of those things and making sure its in the budget. Just anything that helps enhance the student's interest so they want to come to school and be part of that learning environment," said Giannini.
The school district is hosting additional open houses on February 12th and 26th.