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RCSD budget would add to special education department

May 16, 2018

Credit Piotr Lewandowski / freeimages.com

More special education teachers and administrators could be coming to the Rochester City School District.

The RCSD board approved a budget proposal for the 2018-2019 school year Tuesday night totaling $915 million.

Melanie Funchess is a board member as well as the Director of Community Engagement at the Mental Health Association.

She says she is happy there is more money being focused on more vulnerable students, but even more so, that the district was able to take time and really look at the special education programs and priorities.

"What has happened historically is that we have sent kids out of our district to get some of the needs met by things that we could really do in house. We just have got to be better about how we deploy our resources."

Funchess says it’s going to be a long road towards change, but this is the first step.

She hopes the focus isn’t just on adding new bodies to the special education staff, but also helping train those already employed by the district.

"Our budgets are moral documents. And I think we talk about the money, the money, the money buts it's a moral statement of what we value. You put money behind what you value. And what this budget is saying is we are putting up value on all of our learners, particularly our more vulnerable learners."

The city's special education department had been criticized in the past, and that disdain only grew after the death of special needs student Trevyan Rowe in March.

City Council still needs to approve the budget for it to be finalized.