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The Rochester City School District has a budget deficit of $50.2 million in its 2013-2014 budget, according to Superintendent Bolgen Vargas. Thursday evening, Vargas introduced a draft of how the district could close the budget gap. The plan lacked specifics, but school board members did hear some basic cost-saving targets.
Among the targets for potential savings: $15 million in attrition of staff members, $4 million in program savings, $4 million for facilities and $2.5 million in transportation costs. Vargas did not outline what would be cut or how resources would be shifted. Most of the details are expected to come after public input and following the school board's list of priorities in January.
"Budgets are only snapshots," said Malik Evans, School Board President. "Things change from week-to-week, next month we could have everything solved and we could hear we're getting more resources."
Evans praised Vargas for laying out some challenges faced by the district, which include a 37 percent rise in the teacher retirement costs. Vargas also cited an 18.1 percent drop in grant money. The previous budget year, city schools faced a $44 million deficit, according to a spokesperson. Vargas said the next budget will be a challenge, but he believes the gap can be closed by spring.
"I am confident," Vargas said, "Because, like I said, when people come together and work together, they can solve anything."
In March, a detailed budget is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Education.
It is expected to adopt a budget in May and submit it to Rochester City Council for its approval.