There were two persistent refrains at Thursday’s Rochester City School District budget hearing.
One was the need for more money for mental health supports for students. The second was frustration at the difficulty of deciphering what is in the budget proposal at all.
“I want investment in my child and in every other child in this district,” one parent, Laura Smith, said. “If you’re making that investment, great. Fabulous. Show it. If you’re not, then show that too, and we can have a conversation about realigning your priorities to support the students in this district.”
Unlike in past years, the 2022-23 budget proposal does not provide details such as the number of employees in each job category across the district or adult-student ratios. The introductory language refers to an investments in additional social workers, for instance, but the specifics cannot be located in the document itself.
Several speakers at Thursday’s public hearing stressed the need for additional investments in student mental health and emotional supports, in particular given the traumatic nature of COVID-19.
“The total amount of loss and disruption economic hardship and trauma for most children has been the hardest to face in several generations,” said Eamonn Scanlon, education policy director at The Children’s Agenda. “Students’ mental health must be a clear priority in the 2022-23 RCSD budget.”
Scanlon and The Children’s Agenda released a preliminary budget analysis Wednesday outlining many of those commonly cited concerns about the current proposal.
The school board will deliberate on the budget proposal April 26 and May 5 then vote on it May 10, sending it to City Council for final approval.
Also Thursday, the board voted to fund Beatriz LeBron’s defense against an attempt to remove her from the school board initiated by fellow board member Willa Powell.
District policy and state law require the district to defend its employees against legal action related to their official duties in most cases. Powell and James Patterson voted against the motion.
Contact staff writer Justin Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Children’s Agenda advocates for effective policies and drives evidenced-based solutions for the health, education and success of children. We are especially committed to children who are vulnerable because of poverty, racism, health inequities and trauma.