North Syracuse School districts in Central New York and beyond are in trouble, and it’s time we do something about it.
That’s the message behind a pair of forums to be held Feb. 4 and 5 in Auburn and North Syracuse by the Central New York School Boards Association (CNY SBA) in conjunction with the Onondaga-Cortland-Madison, Cayuga-Onondaga, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga and Oswego County BOCES. The forums, which will take place at Auburn West Middle School and North Syracuse Junior High School, respectively, will focus on the major factors causing those financial issues and how school administrators, teachers and community members can make a difference.
“A lot of districts are in real trouble, if not of going into fiscal insolvency, then of going into programmatic insolvency,” said CNY SBA Executive Director Charles Borgognoni. “Schools won’t have the funds to fulfill their mission of educating children.”
Borgognoni cited the recent report issued by New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on schools in fiscal distress statewide, which revealed that Central New York had the highest percentage of fiscally stressed schools in the state (29.9 percent).
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. The scores are based on financial information submitted as part of each district’s ST-3 report, which is filed with the State Education Department as of Dec. 13, 2013. The higher the score, the more stressed the district is.