By Barbara Jones, Staff Writer, LA Daily News | http://bit.ly/YF1zPO
3/19/2013 04:50:17 PM PDT :: Los Angeles Unified can balance its budget this year thanks to a windfall from voter-approved Proposition 30, but needs lawmakers to pass Gov. Jerry Brown's new student funding formula to keep its coffers filled next year, district officials said Tuesday.
The news came as the school board passed a "qualified" interim budget, indicating that it may not be able to meet its financial commitments for the next three years. Officials noted that the district is in good shape this year, with an infusion of cash from the half-cent sales tax hike.
Next year, however, the district might find itself facing a $37 million hole because of funding cuts caused by federal sequestration, which would result in a 5 percent cut in federal money. The district would use some of its reserves to help erase some of that deficit unless Congress acts to restore the cuts.
The district also is counting on the Legislature approving the so-called weighted-student funding formula, which would provide districts with additional money to educate English-learners and students living in poverty. Los Angeles Unified estimates it would get an additional $180 million a year under that formula, at the expense of districts with lower levels of poor or minority students.
Board member Tamar Galatzan pointed out that affiliated charter schools within Los Angeles Unified might lose out if the weighted-student formula is approved, and that officials need to figure out a way to keep the campuses from harm. Her West San Fernando Valley district includes nearly three dozen affiliated charters.
Board members also asked Superintendent John Deasy to ensure that the district's lobbyists are pushing hard to get the governor's funding plan passed, but that it include a way to mitigate the possible loss of funding to local schools.
smf : That the school district is required to have a balanced budget - or a plan to balance the budget - for three years out - isn’t a technicality – it’s the law! It’s the law for all 1100 school districts in California.
The Board of Ed has two main functions –
- to set and approve the District budget – for three years – and
- to hire and fire the superintendent.
If they 1.) can’t get a budget passed, it seems to me they need to 2.) hire a superintendent who can.
The governor’s local control funding formula is not universally popular in Sacramento …or up and down the state. Many legislators (even those that support it in principle) want to see it implemented in law – not buried in trailer bills negotiated in secret after the budget is approved.
Today the board spent farm more time debating whether there should be term limits for the board president than on the budget. (They decided in a totally non-binding vote that there should be term limits …but come July 1 we’ll see how well that bears out!)
And nobody discussed today the $158 million in misappropriations and unallowable charges that LA Unified drained from its cafeteria fund over a six-year span - misdirected from the federal meals program to balance previous budgets – or from where the money will come from to reimburse those funds.
Some mention was made of the shortage in funding health and safety programs and just plain cleaning of increasingly dirty campuses – and it seems that the Board is serious about charter school oversight. But talk is cheap when money is absent.