Prepared by Eamonn Scanlon, Education Policy Manager, The Children’s Agenda
We at The Children’s Agenda are deeply saddened by the current health and economic crises gripping the world. The COVID-19 pandemic may be the most consequential world event of our lifetimes. Now more than ever the public needs “the real facts” to meet this international crisis.
Children will be gravely impacted by their parents’ financial struggles and the simultaneous cuts to school budgets and social programs. Children who attend the Rochester City School District (RCSD) are especially vulnerable given the district’s already deep financial problems and the generational effects of poverty and racism.
The RCSD must make painful cuts to programs and services while attempting to maintain the best possible academic and social-emotional supports for its students. The Children’s Agenda recommends the RCSD Board of Education make adjustments to its 2020-21 Draft Budget to restore services for its most vulnerable students. Deep and widespread cuts are necessary given the RCSD’s financial situation, but those cuts must be equitable. The draft budget disproportionately cuts services for students with disabilities, students with severe mental health needs, and English Language Learners. Programs that are successful and evidence-based must be protected to the greatest extent possible.
The Children’s Agenda promotes full transparency in government decision-making. We call on the superintendent and board of education to articulate why these painful decisions are being made, and provide ample time and opportunity for the community to participate in the process.