Science Academies of New York Charter Schools – Purchase versus Lease of Buildings (2017M-279)

Issued Date
March 30, 2018

Purpose of Audit

The purpose of our audit was to determine whether the Board conducted an appropriate cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether to lease or purchase school buildings for the period July 1, 2014 through July 31, 2017.


The Science Academies of New York Charter Schools (SANY) has school buildings in the City of Syracuse and the Town of Geddes in Onondaga County, the City of Utica in Oneida County and the Town of Frankfort in Herkimer County. SANY, which is governed by a seven-member Board, has approximately 1,600 students. Budgeted appropriations for the 2017-18 fiscal year total approximately $21.6 million.

Key Findings

  • SANY officials did not analyze purchasing options before deciding to lease buildings.
  • We estimate SANY could have achieved savings of nearly $3 million over the 15-year terms of the leases by purchasing and renovating the four buildings acquired during our audit period rather than leasing them.

Key Recommendations

  • Perform and document a thorough cost-benefit analysis of leasing versus purchasing buildings to ensure the best interests of SANY are met.
  • The Board should explore purchasing its school buildings.