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Budget hopes


In his proposed budget, Rochester schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas lays out a unique vision to tackle the district's most persistent problems. | The roughly $728 million budget is the same as the current year's amended budget, but includes expanded instruction time in core subjects at the elementary level. And Vargas would lengthen the school day at eight more schools. | Though the number of teachers would decrease, more teachers would be in the classroom. Vargas says that although there would be few teacher layoffs, as many as 300 full-time teaching positions would be eliminated through attrition. | Vargas's plan to close the $50.2 million budget gap depends on some big assumptions. Governor Cuomo has included in the state budget a scheme to help cities and school districts with soaring pension costs, but the plan faces scrutiny by lawmakers. Vargas is counting on about $17.2 million in savings from that plan. | More troubling is the $17.2 million he expects to save through operational efficiencies: reducing the number of teacher and clerical substitutes, revamping how special education services are provided, and redesigning the in-house suspension program.