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Financial consultant: St. Lawrence Central School broke by 2017 at current pace

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BRASHER FALLS — A financial consultant said that if St. Lawrence Central School District continues at its current pace, it will go broke in 2017.

But Richard G. Timbs told the Board of Education on Wednesday that the blame lies with the inequity in state funding that he says is shortchanging school districts such as St. Lawrence Central. He said the district was underfunded by nearly $25 million in the last seven years.

“You have not been paid what you are due. Part of the big problem is, you have been underfunded. They will not pass an appropriations bill to give you money,” said Mr. Timbs, executive director of the Statewide School Finance Consortium and financial consultant with Bernard P. Donegan Inc., Victor.

His analysis comes at a time when district officials are crafting their 2014-15 budget and are looking at a gap of $1.7 million between revenues and expenditures, according to Superintendent Stephan J. Vigliotti Sr.

“That does not include any additional positions. That is the status quo,” Mr. Vigliotti said.

Because of that gap, he said, the district has provided the St. Lawrence Central United Teachers union with a list of 23 positions that may be affected by budget cuts. He said that under the terms of the union’s contract, district officials must notify the union in March of any potential reductions.

Mr. Timbs projected that the district will have a fund balance of $1.8 million in 2014 and nearly $2 million in 2015. But then it heads down to a projected $699,188 in 2016. The bottom falls out in 2017, he said, with negative $1.4 million, dropping to negative $4.5 million in 2018 and negative $8.3 million in 2019.

“In 2017 this becomes a negative number. I can’t get the budget in the current targeting into 2017. You have run out of money,” Mr. Timbs said.

He said district officials “have to take a look at where the money is going” to stave off bankruptcy. But he said some of the expenses, such as the district’s contribution to the state pension system, is out of its hands — not negotiated locally with unions, but set by the state.

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