New York State School Boards Association

13% of school districts flagged for fiscal stress by state comptroller

by Eric D. Randall

On Board Online • January 27, 2014

By Eric D. Randall
Editor-in-Chief

CenterfoldEighty-seven school districts, or about 13 percent, have been designated as fiscally stressed under state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s new Fiscal Stress Monitoring System for public education.

“The figures are very alarming, and state leaders must take action to address the conditions and state policies that have helped produced this crisis,” said NYSSBA  President Lynne Lenhardt. “We fear that a much greater percentage of districts will be designated as fiscally stressed in the future.”

DiNapoli noted that New York’s school districts have faced major fluctuations in their federal and state aid over the last decade and that revenue growth was nearly flat the last three years, averaging only 1.3 percent.

The percentage of school districts in fiscal stress exceeded 30 percent in six counties - Chemung, Clinton, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Tioga.

Regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts were Central New York (22.9 percent of districts); North Country (16.9 percent) and Western New York (13.9 percent).

Based on data through June 30, 2013, DiNapoli said 587 of 674 school districts evaluated had good scores and were classified as “no designation.” One school district continues to have its information vetted and is classified as “data inconclusive,” and another has been designated as “have not filed.”

The figures do not include the “Big Four” cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Information for these districts will be incorporated into the scoring for their respective cities and reported later this year, according to the comptroller.

The methodology included both financial indicators, such as patterns of operating deficits, and environmental indicators such as trends in property values (see centerfold).

For the complete list of school district fiscal stress scores, go to http://goo.gl/yN5FnG.


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