WXXI AM News

Rochester school district facing spending concerns

Sep 20, 2019

Credit Emily Hunt for WXXI News

The Rochester City School District may have overspent its budget for the 2018-19 school year, but it's unclear how much money is involved and what impact, if any, this could have on students' school programs.

The discrepancy was found during a routine year-end audit by the district's external auditor, school board President Van White said in an interview today.

White said that the district is in the midst of assessing the auditor's findings, but that the findings were significant enough to warrant alerting State Education Commissioner Chancellor Betty Rosa, Mayor Lovely Warren, and City Council President Loretta Scott. 

The district disclosed the auditor's concerns immediately, but more information is needed, White said.

"The goal right now is to get the facts," White said. "Anything more is speculation." 

District officials will make a full, public presentation on the auditor's findings on Oct. 8, White said.

Two potential areas of concern are mandated improvements in the district's special education services and increases in health insurance costs, district spokesperson Carlos Garcia said.

During the budget year in question, the district was led by former Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams and interim Superintendent Daniel Lowengard. Current Superintendent Terry Dade joined the district July 1.

In a state City of Rochester Communications Director Justin Roj said:

“The Rochester City School District’s recent media release regarding its finances is deeply troubling. To convey that it is being ‘transparent’ about its finances while failing to provide any actual figures regarding its overspending is alarming. The City just completed a $50 million Revenue Anticipation Note borrowing for the RCSD which was predicated on financial information prepared and provided by the district. If this information was inaccurate, it could potentially have significant impact on taxpayers as the lenders will hold RCSD accountable. It is imperative that RCSD and its leadership share the facts along with accurate and complete information regarding its financial stability immediately.” 

Macaluso is a CITY Newspaper reporter.