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Jan 27, 2017 5:03 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Three East End Schools Listed This Week By State Comptroller As Being In 'Fiscal Stress'

Jan 30, 2017 12:02 PM

Three school districts in Southampton Town have been listed as being susceptible to “fiscal stress” by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office—a determination that means the state will be more closely monitoring the districts while they work to improve their scores.

But officials in at least two districts say the ratings are inaccurate depictions of fiscal health that leave out key revenues.

Eastport South Manor and Southampton both remain on the list from last year, while Westhampton Beach was added to the monitoring system. ESM also has been listed as being in “chronic fiscal stress,” because this marks the fourth time it has appeared on the annual list, though it has dropped to a less severe classification over the past 12 months.

The East Quogue School District was removed from the fiscal stress list, but administrators say that does not mean the district will not have a difficult budget process this year.

School districts can be given one of four fiscal stress ratings: significant fiscal stress, moderate fiscal stress, susceptible to fiscal stress, and no fiscal stress. To assign a category, each district is assigned a percentage based on year-end balances, short-term borrowing practices and operating deficits, among other factors.

Districts with scores of less than 25 percent were considered in good financial standing by the state; 25 percent to 44.9 percent translated to “susceptible to fiscal stress”; 45 to 64.9 percent was “moderate fiscal stress”; and 65 to 100 percent would mean a district was experiencing “significant fiscal stress,” according to a representative in Mr. DiNapoli’s office.

In ESM, the district received a 38.3 percent rating, down 8.4 points from 46.7 percent last year; Westhampton Beach received 30 percent, up 6.7 points from 23.3 percent; and Southampton received 26.7 percent, down 3.3 points from 30 last year.

In Southampton, Interim Superintendent Dr. Nicholas Dyno said this week the district is still fiscally sound, explaining that the state reviews the fund balances up until June 30, but does not take into account that the district receives its tuition payments in July.

“If these payments were included in the report, we are certain Southampton Public Schools would not be included in the comptroller’s report,” he said in a prepared statement.

Westhampton Beach Superintendent Michael Radday echoed that sentiment, saying that pending tuition payments should be taken into account when determining the final figures.

“The community can rest assured that the Westhampton Beach School District remains in a positive financial position, as evidenced by well-funded reserves, consistently strong annual financial statements, and a recent favorable audit by the [state] comptroller’s office,” Mr. Radday said. “We are hopeful that future versions of the fiscal stress monitoring formula will be amended to more accurately reflect our financial position.”

Dr. Dyno also pointed out that the district recently maintained its Aaa credit rating from Moody’s Investors Service, the highest possible designation. “The simultaneous release of these reports only highlights the deficiencies in the formula utilized by the comptroller’s office with regard to our district’s operational structure,” he said. “The district has been and remains fiscally sound.”

In ESM, however, Assistant Superintendent for Business Rich Snyder said he agrees with the “fiscal stress” designation, saying the state has not increased foundation state aid, which determines how much each school receives in state aid each year. “I admire what they are doing,” he said of the formula. “Every indicator isn’t perfect, and I know the comptroller’s office has had some criticism, but I agree with the designation, because we are under significant fiscal stress.”

In total, 59 schools in the state were designated as fiscally stressed, down from 82 last year.

“Fiscal stress in many school districts has declined, especially for those in the most severe condition,” Mr. DiNapoli said in a statement. “School officials should be commended for working to keep their districts out of financial harm, but should be careful not to amass excessive levels of fund balance in order to do so.”

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When you give 300k as a payment to a bad superintendent you tend to run out of money.
By chief1 (2765), southampton on Jan 27, 17 7:40 PM
3 members liked this comment
This is a tax receipt timing /cash flow problem. Media not telling you full story. As usual Sure there are gobs and gobs of $$ wasted because the tax base lived 200 miles but this is timing.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Jan 28, 17 5:58 AM
40k a student I really think the people running the place are wasteful, and this is just the beginning.
By chief1 (2765), southampton on Jan 28, 17 10:48 AM
You need to realize that this is an average. It takes into account the amazingly high costs of Special Ed & English Language Learners. Most East End districts are heading quickly (if not past) the 50% ESL population marker. The amount of accommodations & additional support staff to provide for all forms of special needs learners is in large part what is making it 40k/student, not entirely wastefulness.
By S'hamptonNative (83), Southampton on Jan 29, 17 3:37 PM
1 member liked this comment
Mass immigration is big business
By smacw (239), New York on Feb 6, 17 12:47 PM
Excuse me for re-quoting my own comment from another school story, which was quickly shuttled off this site's homepage:

$35,000 per student? Some districts are in this range, Southampton, Tuckahoe, Springs, East Hampton, Sag Harbor. Others are not: Sagaponack (over $40k), Montauk (over $58k), Bridgehampton (over $60k), Amagansett (over $75k), and last but not at all least, Wainscott (over $100k). How could this be? Because all these tiny districts shouldn't exist, and the money could be ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 28, 17 8:01 PM
1 member liked this comment
The Southampton Association has been deciding the outcome of local issues for years, Rickenbacker. Which is odd, being that it's made up of meddling interlopers that have second homes in Southampton.

The merger is only one part of this story. The timing of the report may also contribute to the low scores. But giving a superintendent 300k to disappear and having 2 people on salary to do the same job definitely has an impact on the fiscal report. The school board has continually pi$$ed away ...more
By Draggerman (931), Southampton on Jan 29, 17 7:35 AM
2 members liked this comment
The real tax problem is the town budgets. Give the public a chance to vote on those budgets and you will see taxes go down
By Qguy (27), quogue on Jan 28, 17 10:03 PM
Qguy, you are misinformed. Take a look at your tax bill and you will see that the majority of it is school tax. The other big number is the overpaid police which you would have no control over as their contract is voted on by board which is in the police union's pocket.
By bird (814), Sag Harbor on Feb 1, 17 4:16 PM
The real problem is we have too many school districts for the students that attend them. There are 10 east of the canal alone. Some of those, like Sagaponack and Wainscott, while quaint, end up sucking money that could be used to help make bigger districts more efficient. It is a terrible, balkanized system, with feeder districts that have outlived their time. It doesn't help students in districts forced to make educational program cuts in order to meet the tax cap.

Less districts also ...more
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 29, 17 1:03 PM
1 member liked this comment
The real problem is that our schools are bucking under the costs of central American "refugees", some clearly in their 20's, who were ushered into the country en masse as part of the Democrats plan to change the country by importing their preferred demographic group.
By MoronEliminator (214), Montauk on Jan 30, 17 10:05 AM
That's a big, racist, conspiracy-theory-laced bundle of garbage you just said there. Someone ought to mark it "inappropriate", but I sort of like you hanging by your own username, as it projects what I think about your statement even better.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 30, 17 1:57 PM
1 member liked this comment
Just so you can be disabused of your misconception, listen up:
When the California grape pickers went on strike, the corporate farmers went to the then Republican governor, (your sainted) Ronald Reagan, for help. That help came toute suite when he opened the floodgates to any and all from south of the border who wanted to pick grapes and who (woohoo!) picked for less. Seeing this, all of corporate America then jumped on that gravy train. Distorting or ignoring history, and or shifting blame, ...more
By June Bug (2529), SOUTHAMPTON on Jan 30, 17 2:29 PM
I can't believe June Bug and I agree on something, but there it is.
By Rickenbacker (257), Southampton on Jan 30, 17 8:41 PM
2 members liked this comment
In the Hampton Bays School District for the 2014/2015 school year, health insurance was $4,554,656 and dental insurance was $214,205 for a total cost for health and dental of $4,768,861. Call it $4.8 million to make the math easy. That's out of a total budget for the HBSD of $48.2 million. So 10%.

In the Hampton Bays School District for the 2015/2016 school year, health insurance was $4,506,837 and dental insurance was $214,205 for a total cost for health and dental of $4,721,042. Call ...more
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 30, 17 3:01 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is and you can't.
By bb (907), Hampton Bays on Feb 8, 17 8:55 AM
going forward in all union contract negotiations perhaps taking health insurance off the table could save the taxpayers some $$$. If not, having OUR employees pick up much much more of the cost.
By bigfresh (4542), north sea on Feb 6, 17 1:58 PM
How about we let them keep all their health care benefits and provide them, at cost, to anyone in the school district? And how about we make the police, fire, and all the Town employee health plans public -- put them on the Town website -- and let anyone who lives here buy those plans, at cost? And how about we make those plans directly with the local hospital systems and the doctors that work for them, and cut out the health insurance intermediary?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Feb 8, 17 3:50 PM
How about we let them keep all their health care benefits and provide them, at cost, to anyone in the school district? And how about we make the police, fire, and all the Town employee health plans public -- put them on the Town website -- and let anyone who lives here buy those plans, at cost? And how about we make those plans directly with the local hospital systems and the doctors that work for them, and cut out the health insurance intermediary?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Feb 8, 17 3:50 PM
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