Ten area school districts face fiscal stress, according to state comptroller


ALBANY – State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s fiscal stress monitoring system includes 10 school districts in the Hudson Valley region.
The monitoring system, in its second year, is designed to assess the financial stability of school districts.
The East Ramapo Central School District had the highest fiscal stress score of any district in the region with an 86.7 percent. The Peekskill City School District had a score of 65 percent. Both districts are listed in the “significant stress” category of the comptroller’s report.
The Poughkeepsie City School District and the New Paltz Central School District, each with a fiscal score of 50 percent, are categorized as having moderate stress.
In the case of New Paltz, the former board ran down the district’s fund balance to meet the two percent tax cap. Superintendent Maria Rice said state gap elimination fund loss of $1.4 million is hurting the district’s bottom line, but the problem goes deeper during this budget cycle.
“The thing that is really, really difficult right now is not having a state aid run to know what our projected aid would be under the governor’s proposal,” Rice said. “We can’t figure out and do the two percent tax cap formula if we don’t have all the pieces and it is very difficult to create a budget if you don’t know what your revenues are.”
Six districts are susceptible to fiscal stress. They include New Rochelle City School District, Clarkstown Central School District, Eldred Central School District, Hendrick Hudson Central School District, Pine Bush Central School District and Kiryas Joel Village Union Free School District.
The KJ district was singled out for improving, decreasing its fiscal stress by 50 percent.
The Hudson City School District saw a decrease of 25 percentage points from last year.
“School districts are the heart of many of our communities, but they face fiscal pressures that are unlikely to change any time soon,” said DiNapoli. “Although the increases in fiscal stress are relatively minor, the same problems persist, including increased deficits, and dwindling fund balances.” The comptroller urged school districts with deteriorating fiscal health to use the scores “as an impetus for more deliberate and careful long-range budget planning.” 

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