SCARSDALE, NY, 01/19/201
On January 18, 2018 the Scarsdale Forum’s Board of Directors approved its Education Committee’s report recommending that the Scarsdale School District administration create and implement a five-year long-term financial plan to be updated annually. The committee also recommended that the district create an ad hoc committee comprised of school administrators, educators, board of education members and residents representing a diversity of professional experience and expertise to collaborate with the district in developing such a plan.
“We are very lucky in Scarsdale to have numerous residents who are professionals in a wide range of financial fields," stated Education Committee Co-Chair Carlos Ramírez. "This is a pool of diverse individuals that could assist the district in brainstorming different scenarios affecting the financial sustainability of our schools.” The Scarsdale Forum Education Committee is comprised of members who not only work in finance but also in accounting, technology and education, among other fields. A committee team created a dynamic financial model that would enable the district to consider various scenarios involving changes in enrollment and a diverse range of cost drivers. This model was validated by finance and accounting professionals who are members of the Scarsdale Forum and have found it to be structurally sound.
According to the report, “A long-term financial plan would allow the District and Board of Education to more accurately forecast the impact of long-term employment contracts and manage its collective bargaining negotiations to target an overall level of budget growth. Additionally, the Committee believes that this model can be a very useful tool in considering the financial resources needed to maintain or expand the current curriculum and the facilities renovations and additions needed.”
According to Education Committee Co-Chair Mayra Kirkendall-Rodríguez, “An essential component of financial modeling is to include well-thought-out assumptions about possible shocks that may challenge an organization in reaching its stated objectives. Once the Scarsdale School District chooses the long-term financial model that it wants to use, it should apply, at least annually, shocks to the model such as stock market downturns, healthcare cost spikes, changes in employment levels, and gross domestic product (GDP) declines, to determine whether its reserves are sufficient to withstand unexpected adverse developments.”
The Education Committee first shared a long-term financial model with the district in 2010. More recently, in February 2017, it issued a report through which it recommended that the district create a long-term financial plan. According to that study, “the first Design Challenge should be to assist the School Board and Administration on creating a long-range financial plan. By leveraging the expertise of the School Board and Administration on the one hand, and the knowledge and enthusiasm of residents and community groups, we can develop a Plan that makes the District a model of resiliency in Scarsdale, while generating buy-in from a wide swath of the community.”
Subsequent to this report, the committee created and distributed an online “School Topics Survey” during spring 2017, asking Scarsdale residents what should be researched and reported upon during 2017-2018. The number one topic cited was the need for a long-term financial plan. During the committee’s “Live Polling” event in September 2017, most respondents expressed a desire that such a plan would “provide the school district sufficient funds to prepare kids with skills to live in the next decade.” The second choice was for the plan to “insure fiscal responsibility and sustainability,” while the third choice among respondents was for the plan to “provide the school district sufficient funds to prepare kids to get into the best colleges.”
Both the Government Finance Officers Association and the New York State Association of School Business Officials recommend that school districts prepare long-term financial plans. Additionally, the Scarsdale School District’s auditors suggested, in both 2016 and 2017, that the administration should create a long-term financial strategy. Last month, the district announced that it would begin work on such a plan, and the Education Committee welcomes its initiative and offers support in completing this important project.
The Scarsdale Forum Education Committee’s full report and accompanying financial model can be found in the “Public Reports” section of the Scarsdale Forum’s
by clicking here