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NYSUT: DiNapoli’s report shows need to fully fund public schools

Stephon Johnson | 2/8/2018, 4:47 p.m.
According to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, 26 school districts in the state are in need of financial assistance.
Thomas DiNapoli

According to New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, 26 school districts in the state are in need of financial assistance.

A report released by the state comptroller designated those 26 school districts as fiscally stressed using financial indicators such as year-end fund balance, cash position, short-term borrowing and patterns of operating deficits. DiNapoli’s scores were based on the evaluations of 674 school districts with ending fiscal year June 30, 2017.

Although the number of school districts in need is down significantly from last year’s number (59), DiNapoli said that school officials need to be aware.

“While it is welcome news that so few school districts across the state have been classified as in fiscal stress, school officials should remain vigilant and carefully consider how their budgeting decisions will affect their long-term fiscal condition and local taxpayers,” DiNapoli said in a statement.

The East Aurora (Erie County) and Eldred (Sullivan) districts were labeled under “significant stress,” and The Cortland (Cortland), Eastport-South Manor (Suffolk), Harpursville (Broome), Norwich (Chenango), Rhinebeck (Dutchess), Sandy Creek (Oswego) and Schenevus (Otsego) districts were labeled “moderate fiscal stress.” Three other school districts on Long Island—the North Bellmore Union Free and Long Beach City school districts in Nassau County and the Wyandanch Union Free School District in Suffolk County—were classified as “susceptible to fiscal stress.” The East Aurora school district had the highest score in the “significant stress” category with 73.3. It was under “moderate fiscal stress” the previous year.

The state comptroller’s office said that the report doesn’t include the dependent school districts in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers, which will be incorporated in a study about those cities to be released later this year. DiNapoli’s system does not score New York City.

According to the report, the regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts in 2017 were located in Central New York and the Southern Tier at 8.3 percent and 8.1 percent, respectively.

New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said, in a statement, that although improvements have been made, the battle isn’t over.

“The comptroller’s report shows significant progress in reducing the number of school districts facing fiscal distress,” said Pallotta. “We will not be satisfied until every school in our state has the resources required to fully support its students. That is why it is critical that we ensure the budget passed in Albany this year fully funds our school aid requirements.”