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State comptroller: Cazenovia school district ‘susceptible’ to financial stress

Continuing lack of state aid, other facts, means district could run out of money in near future

— After losing $5 million in state aid during the past five years and using reserve funds to fill the gap — and with aid this year currently anticipated to be a mere $60,000 above last year — the Cazenovia Central School District was recently declared a district “susceptible to fiscal stress,” in the latest Fiscal Stress Monitoring System report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

In layman’s terms, this means the district is in danger of running out of money in the near future, said District Superintendent Bob Dubik.

“This the first time we’ve ever been on the distress list,” Dubik said. “We’ve been fortunate, but it was almost a matter of time the way the loss of state aid has been. It’s bleak right now.”

DiNapoli’s annual evaluation of 674 school districts throughout New York state declared that 87 districts — 13 percent of school districts statewide — have been designated as fiscally stressed.

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

The comptroller’s office analyzed separate environmental indicators to help provide insight into the health of the local economy and other challenges that might affect a school district’s finances. These include such measures as student enrollment, property value, budget vote results and poverty.

To date, 12 school districts have been classified as in “significant fiscal stress,” 23 in “moderate fiscal stress,” and 52 as “susceptible to fiscal stress.”

In addition to Cazenovia’s listing as under the “susceptible” category, other CNY districts on the list included Morrisville-Eaton listed as “susceptible to fiscal stress,” and Skaneateles and DeRuyter listed as being in “moderate fiscal stress,” according to the report.

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