Municipal Government, New York

School Districts in Fiscal Stress

February 3, 2016
By Tara Jessup 

Albany, NY – In New York State,Eighty-two school districts are in fiscal stress. The highest concentration is in Central New York and Long Island. The scores are based on a New York State Comproller evaluation of 672 school districts. The latest round of scoring designated eight school districts in “significant fiscal stress,” 24 in “moderate fiscal stress” and 50 as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”

“The overall number of school districts in fiscal stress has essentially remained steady the past three years,” said DiNapoli. “A few have remained in stress for the entire period and we’re watching closely to see if the limited growth allowed by the tax cap this year pushes more school districts into fiscal stress. I recommend that local school officials use our system as a tool when crafting their budgets and developing long-term financial plans.”

Using financial indicators that include year-end fund balance, short-term borrowing and patterns of operating deficits, the monitoring system creates an overall fiscal stress score which classifies whether a district is in “significant fiscal stress,” in “moderate fiscal stress,” is “susceptible to fiscal stress,” or has “no designation.”

The eight school districts that were classified in “significant stress” were: Hempstead Union Free School District (Nassau County); Sachem Central School District (Suffolk); Wyandanch Union Free School District (Suffolk); West Seneca Central School District (Erie); Corinth Central School District (Saratoga); East Ramapo Central School District (Rockland); Herkimer Central School District (Herkimer); and Copiague Union Free School District (Suffolk).

This report does not include scores for the dependent school districts in the “Big Four” cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. Information for these districts will be incorporated into the scoring for their respective cities later this year.

Long Island has a disproportionately high share of districts that have been designated in fiscal stress each of the past three years, with nearly one third of the statewide total.

Nearly 30 percent of city school districts were designated as fiscally stressed compared to just 11 percent of other school districts.

February 2, 2016

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