Governor Signs School District Financial Transparency Law

January 1, 2017

Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed Assemblyman David Buchwald’s (D-Westchester County) legislation to provide more financial transparency in school districts. This law was proposed by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli after his office's audit of school districts and BOCES revealed that a significant number of fiscal activities were conducted without transparency between the schools and their taxpayers. The new law will require that each school district show information about its reserve funds on its website, along with its annual budget and any multi-year fiscal plans adopted by the board of education or trustees. Additionally, information about any external audits will need to be made available on each district website. Furthermore, spending from reserve funds will now only be allowed when expressly authorized by a school board. Many school boards already follow sensible procedures like these, but the new law will ensure that these best practices are followed around the state.

“New Yorkers have the right to know how our schools are spending our tax dollars,” said Assemblyman Buchwald. “This new law gives accessible transparency into the financial operation of our school system and how funds are being allocated by school boards. I am thankful that Comptroller DiNapoli proposed and Governor Cuomo has signed this important legislation making our schools district uses of tax dollars more transparent.”

"My audits of local school districts often highlight the need for improved transparency when it comes to preparing budgets and developing long-term financial plans," said Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "Requiring school districts to post additional information about their current-year budgets, reserve funds and multi-year financial plans will help make districts more accountable and will empower residents to make more informed decisions on school budget votes."

This bill, A.7675A/S.5795A, unanimously passed the State Senate and received broad bipartisan support in the State Assembly where it passed by a 124-16 vote. The Senate sponsor of this bill was State Senator Carl Marcellino, Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, (R-Nassau County). This law is an important step in building public trust and increasing the transparency with regard to education spending.

The law will go into effect on July 1st.