Letter From NECSD Superintendent of Schools, Roberto Padilla re. State Fines
January 4, 2019
Dear Goldback Families,
We are writing with regard to the recent veto by Governor Cuomo of legislation passed by both the Assembly and Senate (A.11174/S.9009) that impacts our Newburgh Enlarged City School District community. In 2016, nearly twelve years after an untimely death led to an administrative error that delayed the submittal of a single piece of paper, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) informed the district that we were being penalized in the amount of $12,747,495.
In May of 2004 an administrative error occurred where the NECSD administration at that time failed to complete the final cost reports of a capital project. The project in question, approved by the voters of our district, largely funded remediation of fuel storage tanks, a necessary improvement for the safety of our scholars and building faculty and staff, as well as work at Newburgh Free Academy.
We have been asked to repay nearly $13 million to the state within the next five years as our assessed penalty. As of the date of this letter, we have paid back $5,098,998. Additionally, during the last three years, we have worked to minimize the tax impact on our community by staying under the tax levy limit and refraining from raising school taxes.
Twelve school districts were fined in New York State for similar administrative errors. The Newburgh Enlarged City School District is one of five districts that has not been granted any reduction in penalty. Several other districts have had their fine minimized in some way.
Since I started in the district, we have finalized all reports for pending or completed projects. Additionally, we have ensured all documents for current projects are up to date. The strategies we have put in place will ensure paperwork and processes are followed more accurately and on time in the future.
We strongly believe this alleged error does not justify the current assessed penalty from the state. However, since we were informed of the penalty, we have worked with bi-partisan support to advocate for our scholars and began to make payments toward this penalty. We are thankful for the partnership and support that we have received from our current Board of Education members, the union leaders in our district, former Senator William Larkin and the late Assemblyman Frank Skartados, as well as newly elected Senator James Skoufis, Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, and Assemblyman Colin Schmitt. I have and will continue to travel to Albany and work with our legislators and community partners to advocate for the best possible outcome for our scholars. While this issue precedes all of us, we are doing our due diligence to rectify this matter as quickly as possible. The fiscal health of our district is imperative to providing a quality education to our scholars.
Our current school board and administration are committed to ensuring that our district is up to date with all necessary paperwork and adherence to all NYSED policies. Our district leaders have implemented new procedures that previous administrations did not have in place to make sure these types of errors do not happen under our present administration. As evidenced by the last four years, we remain committed to making significant strides toward improving how we support and promote the achievements of our scholars.
Through the Work of All,
Roberto Padilla, Ed.D.,
Superintendent of Schools
Newburgh Enlarged City School District