HomeCNY NewsFewer New York schools face financial strain

Fewer New York schools face financial strain

Only a fraction of the state’s more than 670 school districts are under some form of financial strain as of June, according to a report released Thursday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. 

All told, 23 school districts in New York have been designated as fiscally stressed, down from 31 districts a year ago. The report found New York school districts have largely weathered the financial headwinds created by the COVID pandemic, which had led to uncertainty over state funding and the potential to have tax revenue depleted. 

“Fewer of New York’s school districts were scored as under fiscal stress in 2021, but the operational issues caused by the pandemic for all school districts were extreme,” DiNapoli said. “School districts must watch their finances closely as the pandemic continues, prices rise and staffing issues mount.”

The report does not include the state’s four largest school districts, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers. It weighs budgetary measures like year-end fund balance, operating deficits and surpluses, its cash situation and short-term debt. 

The list of school districts facing fiscal stress can be found here.

The pandemic created significant uncertainty for schools over the last two years. They have become flashpoints over mitigation efforts like mask-wearing and debates over how to teach American history and civics. 

Before those debates even began, the late winter of 2020 saw schools close their doors and move classroom learning online. The state began to withhold funding for schools amid a cash crunch as tax revenue began to dry up during the shutdown. 

Districts faced staff layoffs, delays over state and federal support and weakened cash positions. 

Schools were able to recover with state and federal aid, meanwhile, and last year saw a record boost in spending from Albany. State lawmakers are considering a $216 billion budget proposal from Gov. Kathy Hochul that would once again significantly boost direct aid to schools in the state.

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