April 12, 2011
DiNapoli: 101 School Districts Request Surplus Certifications to Use Funds to Make Up State Aid Cuts
State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli's office today certified the amounts of excess Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve funds (EBALR) held by 95 school districts across the state that can be used by the districts in the 2011-12 school year to make up for $190.6 million in state aid cuts. DiNapoli's review found the districts' excess EBALR funds total $147.8 million.
"School districts are unable to use EBALR funds until my office certified the surplus amount," DiNapoli said. "We moved quickly to help those districts that plan to use these funds to save jobs and maintain educational programs.
"Even with the use of these funds, school districts still have painful choices. And using up reserves now could put school districts in a precarious position next year. School districts without enough excess EBALR funds must now rely on their undesignated fund balances, tax increases or budget cuts to fill the hole left by state aid cuts. I have directed my auditors to continue to help school districts get their finances in order and to look for cost savings to help district officials deal with these difficult times."
DiNapoli said his office will complete certification for the remaining six districts, which recently announced their plans to use their EBALR funds, by the end of this week, in time for the districts to include these funds in the budgets they will present to voters.
The 2011-12 state budget amends General Municipal Law to allow a school district, during the 2011-12 school year only, to withdraw from its EBALR fund an amount not to exceed the lesser of: (a) the dollar value of excess funding in the reserve as determined by the State Comptroller or (b) the amount of the school district's gap elimination adjustment as calculated by the Commissioner of Education. The 101 school districts from 34 counties asked the State Comptroller's office to certify their excess EBALR balance, the first step the districts must take to use the funds for the up-coming school year.
DiNapoli's office notified the districts of their excess fund amounts today. Five districts – Jamestown, Alden, Batavia City, Worcester and Madrid-Waddington – do not have any excess EBALR funds. Bayshore Union Free, Horseheads and Massena school districts have the largest excesses with $11.5 million, $11.1 million and $9 million respectively.