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Buffalo Public Schools: 'We do have a balanced budget'

Buffalo Public Schools' fiscal picture has brightened a little due to some cost-cutting, as final versions of the district's four-year plan and budget for next year are prepared.
When the draft budget was presented to the board during a committee meeting last week, it included a deficit nearing $16 million. That was after taking $20 million from district reserves.

Wednesday night, CFO Geoffrey Pritchard said costs have been cut further -- enough that it looks as if the $16 million is gone and only $19 million will be needed from reserves.

"We're projecting instead of using $22 million in fund balance in this budget, when I issue the third quarterly report that number is going to be $16.2 million," Pritchard said. "So it's an improvement to the bottom line and then in 2018-19, we've closed the gap that we had and, essentially, we do have a balanced budget."

Because this fiscal year is so close to its end on June 30, Pritchard said the numbers are hardening projections for next year.

"I've got the balanced 2018-19 draft budget," Pritchard said. "So it's $916.4 million. It's $22.2 million above the prior year, or 2.5 percent. I think that's a very reasonable increase given where we are in terms of increases."

Board members are being asked to approve the latest four-year plan required by the Control Board next week, while the budget for next year is slated to be approved May 16. That is going to require a series of special meetings and committee meetings over the next four weeks.

Pritchard understands using reserves is "not sustainable." He said the fiscal path he and Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash are on calls for an actual balanced budget in four-years, without any cash from district reserves.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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