Dear Dr. Bowers:
I understand the topic of the relative debt burden of the two districts came up last week and read your blog posting.
When I attempted to post a comment on your blog I received a 404 error message.
I supplied the 70% greater debt burden figure that has been discussed, using as my source the data on page 81 of the study data sets provide by SES and posted by the District.
Line 4 on page 81 states that "Total Estimated Debt" is 7,915,000 for HCS and 13,430,000 for MECS as of June 30, 2012.
The 5,515,000 difference is 69.7% greater than the HCS debt as noted in this document, and thus the statement that debt is 70% greater.
I was quite surprised that you posted a significantly lower number for the current MECS debt. Could you identify the reason for the material difference between your number and that presented by SES? Has someone checked the accuracy of all the figures in the data supplement? This is a matter of some urgency as we are being asked to vote based on the details of this study.
Regarding the aid ratios and "local share" of the debt, I believe this is another instance of projecting current state funding practices into the future. My understanding is that the state is under no obligation to pay building aid, and the ultimate guarantor of these debts would be the taxable property owners in the district.
Would it be possible to enable comments on the blog so that I may post a reply?
For our analysis, we are looking at present debt ratios that are actually reported by NYSED (November 2013). For our projection, we are also looking at real numbers that would be in existence when the new district is formed (July 2014). SES used numbers that would be two years old at the time of the merger, if that were to occur.
The data on the "Is it True That" blog is reflective of what the study shows on page 62, which is an illustration of the debt service of the districts (projected) as of Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2014. The first year of a merged district would be the 2014-2015 school year, so the debt shown is from that year through 2025.
The long-term debt data on page 10 of the study (also page 81 of the data sets) is as of June 30, 2012. The total debt service for MECS on page 62 is significantly lower than what is shown on page 10 due to debt payments made during the 12-13 and 13-14 years. MECS has confirmed the accuracy of this data.
Also, on page 10 of the study, you will see that the building aid % for HCS is noted as 86%. This number is derived from taking our Building Aid % (76%) and adding 10% for incentive aid that was available for a selected time period to school districts. HCS, however, did not have any approved projects during that selected time period. Therefore, for the calculation of estimated building aid, 76% is used for HCS. MECS does have some debt that is being aided at 94.9%, though not all of it. When calculating the estimated building aid for the data on your blog, I used 88%, as this was reflective of the actual aid received by MECS according to their FY 11 and FY 12 financial reports.