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City school district gets more time to revise fiscal plan

WBFO News file photo by Eileen Buckley

The Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority continues keeping watch over city school district spending.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley says the board met Monday to review the district's Four Year Financial plan.   

“There is a definite concern among all the board members in regards to significant shortfalls that exist in future years,” said Mark Poloncarz, Erie County Executive and member of the Fiscal Stability Authority. 

The Authority remains in an advisory role to the Buffalo School District.  The District projects a $50-million budget shortfall for the next fiscal year with about $40-million of that is related to the new teachers’ contract.  Reserve funding will help pay for some of the contract cost.

Poloncarz tells WBFO News the board approved a resolution.

“Call on the school district to provide, by June 1st, a much more definitive answer as to how they plan on paying for those shortfalls, not only in the next school year, which would be the ’17-’18 school year, but in the years that follow,” explained Poloncarz.

The District has asked both the city and county to provide an increase in its school funding.  But Poloncarz says he can't squeeze any more out of county revenues.

“Because we do provide assistance to the school district based on our sales tax sharing formula, but as I indicated there’s a possibility for additional sales tax from sales tax growth – there’s almost zero percentage change for the school district to receive additional funds from the county based on a modification of the sales tax sharing formula – that just isn’t going to happen,” remarked Poloncarz.   

Poloncarz noted a representative from the City was at Monday's board meeting indicating it was highly unlikely Buffalo would provide more funds to the school district.

“But she could only comment on the current situations and, of course, that would have to be negotiated as part of the next city budget,” responded Poloncarz.  

The Governor's proposed budget calls for a $13.5 million increase in state aid to the city school district. But the District is hoping the state could provide another $40 million.  Meanwhile, Poloncarz says he remains confident in the Superintendent's effort to trim the budget and believes at this point “everything is on the table”.    

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