District’s ‘fiscal stress’ score improves

A Jan. 25, 2017, report from the New York State Comptroller’s Office identifying Herkimer as being “susceptible to fiscal stress” highlights the need for continued financial support for the district, Superintendent Robert Miller said.

Read more: Fiscal Stress Monitoring System Results
for School Districts: Four-Year Review

Herkimer’s status has improved dramatically over the previous year, when it was classified as being in “significant fiscal stress.” Herkimer was identified in the Comptroller’s report as one of 18 districts showing a “major decrease” in fiscal stress scores.

According to the Comptroller’s Office, the “fiscal stress” system looks at financial indicators such as year-end fund balance, short-term borrowing and patterns of operating deficit to produce scores for each district in the state.

Scores classify a district as being in “significant fiscal stress,” “moderate fiscal stress,” “susceptible to fiscal stress” or as having no designation. The report released Jan. 25, 2017, reflects the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016.

According to Miller, the Herkimer Board of Education has “made a lot of difficult decisions” to get the school back on fiscally sound footing.

“We ran a surplus last year, so more money went back into the fund balance,” Miller explained, noting that the lack of appropriate fund balance was among the factors that contributed to the district’s higher fiscal stress levels.

Contract settlements with Civil Service Employees Association, Inc. (CSEA) and the Herkimer Education Association (HEA) last year also helped slow the district’s expenditure growth. Miller said he anticipates continued improvement in the district’s fiscal stress score for the fiscal year ending in June 2017.

“The district needs to continue to be careful developing fiscally sound budgets,” Miller said. “We are thankful for the support of taxpayers, and we want to be respectful of their needs. At the same time, we rely on our legislators to ensure that funding is there from the state to continue providing our students with the education they need. The resources we devote to the children of this community can help ensure their success, and provide for the success of our community.”