State Comptroller report outlines how RCSD budget gap happened

WHEC

Apr 21, 2020

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released his second report on the Rochester City School District’s finances Tuesday.

The first report, released Jan. 23, found that without severe cuts to RCSD’s budget, the district would be out of money by June.

The district ended up making more than 100 layoffs mid-year.

The second report outlines how the district ended up with a deficit in the 2018-19 school year.

The report’s key findings were:

Board and district officials did not use accurate estimates of funding to balance the 2018-19 budget. The Board didn’t adopt a structurally balanced budget or follow its fund balance policy. RCSD doesn’t have a comprehensive, multi-year financial plan. The report shows the district underestimated the cost of health and dental benefits for employees by more than $15.9 million and substitute teachers by about $7.8 million. It also underestimated the cost of charter school tuition, retirement, contract transportation and BOCES.

The report also shows a projected budget gap of $59.3 million for the upcoming school year.

DiNapoli released the following statement on his findings:

“The report my office released today found the Rochester City School District can do significantly more to improve its budgeting and financial planning," New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said. "We found the district failed to use reasonable estimates to balance its 2018-19 budget, neglected to follow its own fund balance policy and did not prepare a multiyear financial plan. These flaws combined produced a structurally imbalanced budget and an unplanned operating deficit of $27.4 million. The goal of my office's report is to provide greater clarity on the district's fiscal condition and provide independent information that can help it navigate the serious challenges the Rochester community faces as they prepare the 2020-21 budget in these especially challenging times. We'll continue to work with the district and will further examine the budgetary controls and monitoring problems that lead to the 2018-19 deficit.”