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Here is their latest budget proposal.

A few things:

  1. Their enrollments have fallen from 32,586 in the 2006-07 academic year to an expected 30,976 in the 2011-2012 academic year. This is a 4.9% decrease in student attendance.
  2. Last year the district spent $708.2 million dollars, or about $22,845 per student.
  3. Finding data on expenditures and past budgets for the district and the state is excruciating. The best I can gather from a quick search (I have to run off to class now) is that in 2008, the district spent $635 million.
  4. The “draconian” you are killing the children budget proposal for 2011-2012 is asking the district to get by with $678 million.

Basically, as enrollment has fallen by 5%  spending increased by 10.3%, so per pupil spending increased by a far larger amount. The district, for a variety of reasons, is running an $80 million budget gap and needs to close it. And of course the brinkmanship strategies of the school district include cutting the most popular programs, laying off teachers … I heard a pathetic commercial this morning discussing the tragedy of cutting funding for the school of the arts, meaning that inner city kids will have to look elsewhere to support their interest in singing Italian opera.

Enjoy your morning coffee.

7 Responses to “Rochester City School District”

  1. Rod says:

    The big story in our local newspaper is also the school budget, and the board is using the same tactics as your school board in cutting programs and eliminating teachers while still maintaining the jobs of the teachers at the top of the salary scale. Nobody on the school board has even faintly suggested across-the-board pay cuts as an alternative to layoffs: that would offend the teachers’ union, and we can’t have that!

    Now, I’m as much for paying teachers well as I am in favor of honoring my father and my mother so my days will be long in the land the Lord My God has given me. But I also know that teaching school is the best job in our little valley, and that teachers are no longer under-paid. There is virtually no turnover in teaching positions except for replacing retirees or teachers who have decided to move out of the area. Around 85 percent of the teachers are at the top of the salary scale. What’s more, the school district subsidizes the teachers’ tuition in grad school, a big factor in over-paying them. Getting a masters or doctorate in education really means nothing when it comes to the teachers’ output, but the school district pays dearly for those education degrees, which enable the top salaries to be in the neighborhood of a hundred grand for nine and a half months of work. Not bad pay in these parts.

    I used to be a trustee of the private school I attended, so I know a thing or two about the finances of a school. $22,000 per pupil would be plenty to provide a triple-A quality education at a private school. My school currently charges $26,000 for day student tuition, but the average day student gets about half that in scholarship aid. I was one of the few trustees who understood the concept of marginal costs, and I know that once you’ve taken care of the overhead, the cost of adding more students is way less than the sticker price of 26 grand.

    Of course, my private school is not unionized, and we don’t offer tenure to anyone. If a teacher fails to do a good job, he or she is out the door (assuming the headmaster is a good judge of teaching talent; that’s not always been the case).

  2. Greg says:


    Teaching school, especially in a low-income urban area, is certainly not as peachy as you make it sound. Additionally, you make it seem as though all teachers walk away with their pockets full. A motivated, highly-qualified, and highly-effective 25 year old teacher from an Ivy league school will likely walk home with a salary of less than $40,000. His friend graduating from the same school with the same grades will likely double that salary by pursuing a career in finance or another sector.

    You’ve found a problem, you just don’t elaborate on it. The problem is a lack of a sound incentive structure for retaining good teachers coupled with the failure to fire the bad ones. This isn’t just a Rochester problem either, this is a nation-wide problem.


  3. Harry says:

    In our district the government-run schools can’t hire Ivy Leaguers, or even graduates of Amherst without a teaching certificate, which one normally would get from a state institution

  4. Rod says:

    Greg, I appreciate your comments on teachers’ pay. My point was that at least in our public schools here, the school board has sought to preserve the jobs of those at the top of the scale at the expense of the jobs of those 25-year-olds getting paid $40 a year. It’s the union that calls the shots.

    I taught school myself at the same private school where I was both a student and a trustee. I have to say the pay back then was pretty poor: the starting salary was $4,400 a year plus housing on the dorm floor and all the school food you wanted to eat. I got a housing allowance for off-campus housing after two years, and I also was the director of admissions, so I worked through the summer months, too.

    Back then we had a lot of turnover in all the departments, and it was especially hard to keep math and science teachers who could always get much more money in private industry. When I was a trustee, I became chairman of the curriculum committee, and I asked the math department chairman (an old friend and my own math teacher when I was a student) what we could do to retain more math teachers. “First, you have to hire someone who wants to teach,” he said. “If you hire someone who really wants to be something else, there is no way you will be able to keep him. But once you find someone who wants to teach and is good at it, you have to pay him enough so he can make a decent living and not have insurmountable financial worries that can only be solved by changing careers.”

    In other words, if a math or science teacher wants to make a lot of money, sooner or later he’s going to get a job that pays a lot more than teaching school, but you don’t have to pay him as much as what Merck would pay him. The teachers’ union will argue all day long that there ought to be parity based on a labor theory of value, but you can attract and hold teachers by paying them what our local school district pays. There is virtually no turnover in our schools now, except for retirement or re-location, and, as I said before, teaching school is one of the best occupations here in our valley.

  5. Rod says:

    Also, if you want to pursue a career in finance instead of teaching math, you might have to live and work in New York, where living costs are through the roof. You also might have to work much longer hours than teachers would, and your neck will be always on the chopping block if you don’t earn that high salary many times over.

  6. RIT guy says:

    Greg, a 25 year old (though most are likely to complete their degree requirements by 22 or 23) entering a teaching job, is in almost all cases not going to be in the same degree field as those going into finance. So why compare someone graduating in “education”, with someone graduating in “finance”, regardless if they are from the same institution or have the same GPA? They have nothing in common. A 4.0 GPA in liberal arts is not likely to get you more money than a 2.0GPA in computer science; nor should it.

    Wintercow, the school of the arts in ROC is what provides a good majority of the base for the neo-communist organizations and groups you see everyday protesting in downtown. They are protecting their base. Of course, there is nothing more hilarious than communists incessantly demanding (through bull horns) more money from the “capitalists” (and incidentally, 90% of those protesting are either too young to have jobs, or too lazy). Rochester is a kooky place.

  7. RIT guy says:

    That, and the school without walls are their darling experiments for providing jobs to themselves, and producing future “cadres” for the struggle.

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