Editor’s note: The Union’s press conference scheduled for 4 p.m. EDT will be live streamed on this page.
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — BY the end of the month, 219 non-teaching employees of the Rochester City School District will lose health insurance, according to a statement from the Board of Education Non-Teaching Employees Union (BENTE).
Superintendent Lesli Myers-Small has withdrawn the district’s proposal to furlough food service and school security staff, BENTE President Dan DiClemente said in a press release.
MORE | ‘Essential then, essential now’: 221 RCSD food service, safety officer layoffs could be coming
During a September meeting, the Board of Education voted to lay-off the 200 plus workers, citing furloughs as a viable financial option and providing health care as a way to lessen the pain.
“This is a punch in the gut,” BENTE President Dan DiClemente said in a statement. “To remove health care from your own employees in the middle of a pandemic is about the worst thing I have seen any superintendent do in my 27 years with the district. These are the heroes who risked their own health to feed and protect children during the first wave of COVID-19 and Dr. Myers-Small is treating them like gum on the bottom of her shoe.”
RCSD is one of the few local districts who have opted for 100% virtual instruction. That plan was initially supposed to last for the first 10 weeks of the school year. As of Wednesday, no further plans have been finalized for after 10 weeks.
“The acting Chief of Human Capital Initiatives stated that the district would save $1.1 million for the 219 laid off employees over a five-week period, while the estimated cost of health insurance is $91,000 a month,” DiClemente wrote.
Another round of RCSD layoffs comes less than a year after hundreds of jobs were cut due to the district’s fiscal issues. With a budget gap of tens of millions of dollars to close, district officials had lobbied for state aid, but with the coronavirus pandemic waging on, and the state’s fiscal flexibility in limbo, the state aid remains an unknown.
The statement says that Thursday is the last day for BENTE’s laid off members.
BENTE members cover a wide range of school occupations, including transportation, custodial, clerical, food service, maintenance, security, storehouse, and more.
News 8 has reached out to RCSD and the Rochester Teachers Union for comment, but neither have immediately returned a request for comment.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.