Holley school leaders say district is in good financial condition

Posted 3 February 2016 at 12:00 am

Comptroller cites Holley for ‘moderate fiscal stress’

Photo by Tom Rivers – The sign in front of the Holley Elementary School lists upcoming activities at the district.

By Tom Rivers and Kristina Gabalski

The state comptroller’s office has put out its annual assessment of school district’s fiscal stress and Holley was cited at a “moderate” level.

Other districts in Orleans County didn’t have a designation, but the comptroller’s scoring system gave the districts points for either fiscal or environmental stress, in some cases both.

Holley accumulated 48.3 points for fiscal stress, the most of any one the five districts in Orleans County. Albion had the second most with 20 points.

Both districts moved money out of the general fund, drawing attention of the comptroller’s office. Holley gave money back to the taxpayers, which reduced taxes, and also paid down debt, said Sharon Zacher, the district’s assistant superintendent for business.

Holley Central School District issued a statement on its Facebook page saying, ” from a financial standpoint, the district is and continues to be in good financial condition.”

In an interview, Zacher said the district’s finances and cash flow are in good condition.

“The district chose to pay down additional debt and reduce the tax levy,” she said. “As a result, the district fund balance and reserves were significantly lowered causing the calculation for fiscal stress to rise. A portion of district reserves were moved to account for the capital project that was voter approved in December 2014.”

Albion moved money from the general fund to a capital reserve fund. District voters in May 2015 approved a $14.3 million capital project. The district has to pay a 9 percent local share, $1,286,000, and it has that money in a reserve fund.

“We transferred funds from surplus to a fund that was set up for that purpose,” Shawn Liddle, Albion’s assistant superintendent for business, told the Board of Education on Monday. “We’re well below any designation for fiscal stress.”

The comptroller’s office based its fiscal stress report on five categories for school districts: year-end fund balance, end-fund balance, operating deficits, cash position, and use of short-term debt and fixed costs.

Kendall was given a fiscal score of 6.7 percent (no designation), and Lyndonville and Medina were given a 0 percent fiscal stress score.

The comptroller’s office also scored districts on environmental stress. None of the Orleans County districts were designated, but they were assigned points in the comptroller’s indicators, including property values, enrollment, budget votes, graduation rate and free & reduced priced lunch.

Lyndonville scored the highest at 26.7 percent for environmental stress, followed by Albion at 20 percent, Kendall at 13.3 percent, and Holley and Medina both at 6.7 percent.

For more on the comptroller’s report, click here.