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OpinionLetters

Letter: School budgeting is misunderstood

A budget vote reminder sits on the Belmont

A budget vote reminder sits on the Belmont Elementary School property in West Babylon on May 19, 2014. Credit: Johnny Milano

Recent articles about audits of school districts paint a distorted picture of school financial practices ["School districts criticized for cash surpluses," News, Oct. 14].

School districts budget conservatively to ensure there are no disruptions to education programs during the year due to emergencies. These might include storms, bus accidents, new students with severe disabilities who require costly services, or major employers leaving town and decreasing the tax base.

This year, some districts have had to deal with unanticipated enrollment increases because of an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children. School districts do not want to be forced to institute cuts midyear, which would occur if they had insufficient funds to cover these unanticipated expenses or loss in revenue.

Audits of school districts suffer from the "Goldilocks syndrome." Schools are chastised for either having not enough in reserves or for having too much. The right amount depends on the district and its unique circumstances, and ultimately that's the responsibility of school boards to determine, not someone in Albany.

School districts have restrictions on the amount of funds they can set aside in reserves, and we also receive the most scrutiny and public involvement in the budget process compared with other local governments.

Michael J. Borges

Robert J. Reidy

Albany

Editor's note: The writers are the executive directors, respectively, of the New York State Association of School Business Officials and the New York State Council of Superintendents.
 

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