News & Opinion » News

Despite resistance, Dade still recommends cutting East’s budget


Rochester city schools Superintendent Terry Dade is standing behind his recommendation that the school board cut $6 million from East Upper and Lower School’s budget to help bridge the district’s $87 million budget gap.

Dade included the recommendation as part of his updated budget proposal, which he presented to the school board Tuesday night. Some of the board members bristled at the suggestion and Shaun Nelms, East’s superintendent, joined the board’s Zoom meeting to express his dismay.

“The way that East is feeling is the way that my schools are feeling that are being closed right now,” Dade said in an interview Wednesday. “It's the way that employees are feeling right now that their bargaining unit is being reduced. We're all feeling the same way."

Dade’s updated budget proposal calls for the elimination of approximately 341 positions, 280 of which are teachers. It also calls for closing schools 20 and 43, as well as converting Nathaniel Rochester School No. 3 into a middle school.

East is a district school but it’s operated by the University of Rochester, which serves as an educational partnership organization, or EPO. The district provides funding for the school under a contract with the university.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Nelms said Dade’s proposal would amount to “ending the relationship with the EPO and the University of Rochester.”

Ultimately it’s up to the school board members to decide whether they want to pursue cuts to East’s budget. Board President Van White pushed back on the idea, arguing that such a sizable cut could undermine progress at the school. He noted that graduation rates at East have increased from 19 percent before the university took it over to around 70 percent last year.

"If anything in my budget proposal does not move forward, the Board of Education needs to work with me and my team to identify savings elsewhere,” Dade said.

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at [email protected].