Warren says district officials knew about budget shortfall for months

Sep 24, 2019

Credit Emily Hunt for WXXI News

On the same day that NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced his office will audit the Rochester City School District, Mayor Lovely Warren said she was told by a source last weekend that district officials have known about the shortfall in last year’s budget for quite some time. 

Warren said she was concerned when Board of Education President Van White sent a “cryptic” letter last week admitting that the district overspent last school year’s budget. And that concerned increased after a Democrat and Chronicle report said the district was over budget by $50 million.

“I’ve been told that this has been identified or had been identified months ago by some of their financial people,” said Warren. “After the D&C article came out with the dollar amount we were told that this was raised as an issue months ago and nobody listened.”

Warren would not identify who told her this information.

She said the city, which contributes $119 million annually to the district, used the financial information to purchase bonds and says errors like this could cause the city to pay higher interest rates. Warren said that’s why she’s asked to governor to sever ties between the district and the city.

“It should not be on the backs of our taxpayers to correct this issue and the state needs to help us if this is in fact true,” said Warren.

Board of Education President Van White says he won’t comment on speculation. WXXI News contacted the district for comment and has not yet received a response.

The mayor says she agrees with the calls from numerous local lawmakers for an investigation. A spokesperson for the state comptroller’s office says a district audit will start in early October.