BOARD INSIGHT: Budget Guideline Development

Each year, the Board of Education reviews and modifies its budget guidelines. These guidelines provide a budget development framework to our District administrators and support the Board’s decision-making processes throughout our review. Among the important aspects of our budget review is the regular monitoring of the District’s use of community resources to ensure PCSD’s long-term financial sustainability.

Our long history of financial responsibility is a hallmark of Pittsford’s Board of Education and serves as one measure of District success. Budget development and implementation, audit oversight, and fiscal governance require close consideration of not only current needs, but those extending well into the future. District administrators, staff, and our Board understand that the decisions we make today have a direct impact on the District’s financial future.

In terms of governance, the PCSD, in accordance with NYS law, long ago established an Audit Oversight Committee (AOC). Three Board of Education members serve alongside Superintendent Pero and a handful of staff members from the District’s Business Office. The AOC is charged with regular review and validation of the District’s financial management, which includes quarterly examination of our finances performed by independent external auditors, most notably by the New York Office of the State Comptroller (OSC).

Cash collection, bank deposits, operational and investment expenditure strategies receive close scrutiny – and validation – from these multiple outside sources.

According to Moody’s credit rating service, “Pittsford Central School District maintains an exceptional Aa1 rating by maintaining strong financial operations supported by conservative budgeting practices.”

In fact, Moody’s characterizes the District’s management of Financial Operations and Reserves in this way, “Solid finances and healthy reserves,” noting, “the District’s liquidity is expected to remain healthy. As such, the District does not borrow short-term notes for temporary cash flow purposes, saving taxpayers additional interest expenses.”

What’s more, New York’s OSC has often cited Pittsford’s fiscal management and oversight as a model that other districts across the State would do well to review and emulate.

The District’s Independent Auditor regularly offers many positive comments as well. “The District’s financial position improved this year [2017-2018] with good cash flow,” wrote Tom Zuber, independent auditor and partner with Ray Wager, CPA. “Because of this,” he added, “the District didn’t have to short-term borrow to finance its operations and was able to maximize investment income.”

The most obvious benefit of our sound fiscal practices is significant savings to community taxpayers and avoiding the paying of interest to finance District operations. The independent auditor went on to say, “The District also has good reserves that are appropriately funded, used for specific purposes … [the District] does a good job of using reserves as needed for one-shot items, and as permitted by law … the District works hard to replenish its reserves promptly.”

Pittsford Central School District is very fortunate to have a talented team of administrators and business professionals working tirelessly to arrive at the best results for our community. As evidenced by auditors’ reports and findings, we feel confident that they represent the best in the business.

Rest assured, however, that while the Board of Education is pleased with the strong results we have achieved to date, we will continue to closely monitor these finances as we admire the District’s pursuit of continuous improvement.