The Ti district is “financially susceptible to financial stress,” according to a report by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. That’s not good news, but it’s better than an earlier report that listed the Ticonderoga district as having a “significant” likelihood of financial stress.
The fiscal health of the Ticonderoga Central School District is improving.
The Ti district is “financially susceptible to financial stress,” according to a report by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System.
That’s not good news, but it’s better than an earlier report that listed the Ticonderoga district as having a “significant” likelihood of financial stress.
“This goes back to the issues we were having over the past two years,” John McDonald, Ti school superintendent, said. “It was also discussed in the audit the state did last year. In conjunction with that, we developed a plan to improve our fiscal situation which included long-term planning, continuing to present a balanced budget and building up reserves.
“Even though we are listed as ‘financially susceptible to financial stress,’ we have actually improved over the past year and moved out of the ‘significant’ category,” he said. “The restructuring of our labor contracts has helped tremendously and we now have a viable long term plan going forward. Obviously, this is predicated on the state maintaining its current level of funding.”
Nearly 90 school districts, 13 percent of school districts statewide, have been designated as fiscally stressed, according to the comptroller’s Fiscal Stress Monitoring System. DiNapoli’s office evaluated 674 school districts with fiscal years ending on June 30, 2013.
Crown Point, Moriah, Schroon Lake and Putnam schools were not found to be in any financial stress.
“School districts are a critical barometer to the fiscal health of our local communities,”said DiNapoli. “Unfortunately, reductions in state aid, a cap on local revenue and decreased rainy day funds are creating financial challenges that more and more school districts are having trouble overcoming. My office’s fiscal stress scores highlight the need for school district officials to manage their finances carefully with an eye towards long-range planning and how they can operate more efficiently.”
The Fiscal Stress Monitoring System looks at year-end fund balance, cash position and patterns of operating deficits to create an overall fiscal stress score which classifies whether a district is in “significant fiscal stress,” “moderate fiscal stress,” “susceptible to fiscal stress,”or “no designation.”
The rating system also looks at the local economy and other challenges that might affect a school district’s finances, such as student enrollment, property values, budget vote results and poverty.
The report classified 12 school districts as in “significant fiscal stress,” 23 in “moderate fiscal stress”and 52 as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”
The report does not include schools in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers.
School districts found to be in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics, according to the report. Most are operating with low fund balance, operating deficits and limited cash on hand. The districts were also found to have a much higher likelihood of using short-term borrowing to bridge cash flow gaps.
Fiscally-stressed school districts also share a number of environmental themes, according to the report, such as declining property values, high poverty rates and low school budget support.
The North Country has 16.9 percent of its schools in fiscal stress, according to the report. Central New York, with 22.9 percent, is the only region with more fiscally-stressed schools.
For the complete list of school district fiscal stress scores go online at www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/fiscalmonitoring/pdf/schools/schools_summary_lists.pdf