Local, state and federal officials are now looking into how Rochester City School District officials overspent past their nearly one billion dollar budget. Sources tell News10NBC that the reported deficit for the 2018-19 school year is between $40 million and $50 million.
Superintendent Terry Dade has been on the job for three months. An outside audit has revealed district officials overspent past their more than $900 million budget.
“My job as the leader of this school district is to find out how we got in our current state and to come up with an aggressive plan to address the situation,” Dade said. “All I can say is that I’m digging back five years ago and my early indication is that this didn’t happen overnight.”
Eamonn Scanlon, policy analyst for Children’s Agenda, says this is deeper than a simple accounting error. He’s urging officials and the community to ask the right questions.
“Even now, we’re engaging in a debate that really isn’t about children… it’s about the decisions of adults, for adults,” Scanlon said. “We have to come out of this process really looking at how are the dollars trickling down to children?”
Board President Van White says early results indicate the overspending could be in health care or special education. White says he does not believe the audit will show frivolous spending, but he’s concerned about the oversight.
“I think at the end of the day, what you will find is that the money was spent to meet some of the great demands the district has,” White said. “That doesn’t take away from the fact that someone should have been looking at the check book and balancing it.”
District officials tell News10NBC they will hold a press conference sometime on Thursday to fill in some blanks. If cuts are coming to the district, Dade says he hopes to keep them away from the classroom.
“I want to make sure we’re making decisions that are not going to impact the teaching, learning and support necessary for our students,” Dade said.