One Oswego County school district on state comptroller’s fiscal distress list

The Oswego City School District is the only one in Oswego County on the list of fiscally distressed districts issued today by the state Comptroller’s office.

According to a news release from the Comptroller’s office, the fiscal stress scores are based on financial information submitted as part of each district’s ST-3 report filed with the state Education Department as of Dec. 13, 2013.

Today’s announcement 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 and reported later this year.

DiNapoli said 587 districts have been classified as “no designation.”One school district continues to have its information vetted and is classified as “data inconclusive,”and one school district has yet to submit necessary financial information to the Comptroller’s office and is designated as “have not filed.”

Ranked as “no designation” districts are Altmar-Parish-Williamstown, Central Square, Fulton, Hannibal, Mexico, Phoenix, Pulaski and andy Creek. Oswego was listed as “Susceptible to Fiscal Stress.”

According to a report issued today with the fiscal stress scores, school districts found to be in fiscal stress share a number of common characteristics. Most are operating with low fund balance, operating deficits and limited cash on hand. These 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 DiNapoli’s report. Although many factors are outside a district’s control, they can drive additional costs or hurt the district’s ability to raise revenues. For example, fiscally stressed school districts were more likely to experience declining property values, high poverty rates and low school budget support.

The report also found:

  • High-need urban/suburban school districts were three times more likely to be considered in fiscal stress compared to low-need districts;
  • The percentage of school districts in fiscal stress exceeded 30 percent in six counties –Chemung, Clinton, Madison, Montgomery, Niagara and Tioga;
  • Upstate school districts were more likely to be in some level of stress compared to downstate districts; and
  • Regions with the highest percentage of stressed school districts were Central New York (22.9 percent of districts); North Country (16.9 percent) and Western New York (13.9 percent).
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