City of Rochester investigating report of overspending by school district

Lynette Adams
Created: September 20, 2019 06:18 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — The City of Rochester is responding to a report that the Rochester City School District overshot it's nearly one billion dollar budget for 2018-19.

That discovery came during the district's annual practice of hiring an independent auditor to go over the books.

The president of the Rochester Board Of Education, Van White, said it's a little more complicated than just looking at one line item. He said it could involve other departments, like transportation, and it would take a few more days to get it done.

"It's a bit early for me to say what happened and what we might have to do," said White.

White says Wednesday night he received word that an independent auditor found overspending in the last year's budget.

News10NBC asked about the amount that was overspent and what it was used for. However, White said he didn't have a specific dollar amount, only that it happened in the areas of health care benefits and special education.

"This is not the time to speculate," said White. "This is the time to be transparent and to tell people in that transparency [that] we will provide more answers at the very beginning of October and naturally people will want some answers because there will have to be some reconciling of this. We will have to figure out what we can spend and what we can not spend in the future."

City Communications Director Justin Roj released this statement Friday afternoon:

"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 a 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."

News10NBC asked White how he can reassure parents and others that school leaders are making good decisions when it comes to district finances.

"I've been on the board 11 years and this has never been an issue before," White said. "We've never had circumstances where we overshot our budget. But we've had some unique challenges this year. People forget we had a distinguished educator and a former commissioner of education telling us we need to operate more efficiently and operate more effectively for our students and one of those issues was special education."

White said all the details will be released during an audit committee meeting on Oct 8.

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