Rochester School District Resists Use of Public Funds for Referendum

Charlotte High School in Rochester, New York. (DanielPenfield via Wikipedia)

(CN) – The Empire State has imperial designs on a school district in the city of Rochester, whose Mayor Lovely Warren has enthusiastically embraced a state takeover of the schools.

Rochester’s local Democrat and Chronicle newspaper recently revealed that its mayor spent roughly $10,000 on sending a letter to 30,000 potential voters, which urged them to support a ballot referendum that would permit the state to assume control of the district.

Describing this as an “improper use of public funds,” the Rochester City School District petitioned on Monday to have a judge block the referendum titled “Our Children, Our Future” from appearing on the ballot during the Nov. 5 elections.

“The city and the mayor should not be using public funds to place the referendum on the ballot,” the 9-page petition states. “The city and the mayor also should not be using public funds to persuade the public on the merits of the referendum, or otherwise convey favoritism, partiality, or approval of the referendum.”

Signed by the district’s general counsel Karl Kristoff, the maneuver comes with a time crunch. Rochester and Warren have until Aug. 5 to submit the referendum for inclusion on the ballot. Board of Elections programming begins roughly a week later before ballots are printed in September.

Warren did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

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