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DiNapoli: Roosevelt schools on track for budget surplus

The Roosevelt school district is on track to end its fiscal year with a surplus of about $993,000 instead of the $2.5-million operating deficit the district planned in its budget, according to a review released Tuesday by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

DiNapoli's audit also found the district's general fund balance increased from a deficit of $7.9 million as of June 2007 to a surplus of about $20 million by the end of June 2009. DiNapoli attributed this to an additional $14 million in special state aid, tighter spending constraints by the district and ongoing monitoring by his office.

"Roosevelt officials have made a lot of smart decisions to get the district back on its feet," DiNapoli said in a statement. "There are still areas in need of improvement, but this is remarkable progress."

Schools Superintendent Robert-Wayne Harris said the district has begun to comply with the comptroller's recommendations.

"This kind of praise from the comptroller would be outstanding for any Long Island district. The fact that it's been given to Roosevelt is a great endorsement of this administration, and something that our taxpayers, students and faculty can be proud of," Harris said in a statement.

DiNapoli's latest report focuses on the second quarter of 2009-10: October through December 2009.

DiNapoli said that, despite overall improvement, the district had mistakenly spent or encumbered against budget lines with no or insufficient appropriations, making it difficult for the district to properly monitor budget-line account activity.

He also said district officials need to earmark and amend the 2009-10 budget to integrate $1.04 million in unspent Academic Improvement Grant funds.

District officials said they have begun implementing new budget codes, which must be reconciled with old budget codes, and are amending the 2009-10 budget.

Roosevelt saw a dip in its high school graduation rate in 2009 to 59 percent, down from 61 percent in 2008.

In 2002, the State Education Department took control of Roosevelt and its board in an effort to stamp out political corruption, strengthen finances, and raise test scores and graduation rates.

State control is due to end some time between 2011 and 2013.

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