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20 August, 2014 :: The Los Angeles County Office of Education is questioning the L.A. Unified school district's report on how it plans to spend new state funds targeted at disadvantaged youth - asking whether administrators are accurately accounting for past expenses.
"The district asserts $700 million dollars in 2013-2014 expenditures spent to serve and support low-income, foster youth and English learner (unduplicated count) pupils," wrote Marlene Dunn, Interim Chief Financial Officer for the county office, in an Aug. 13 letter to school board president Richard Vladovic. "We request the district provide rationale that supports the identification of these expenditures."
The district has until the end of the month to respond, and the county's concerns could result in budget revisions for the current school year.
School board member Steve Zimmer said if the county's concerns put the budget at risk, the the school board will take it up its public meeting next week. So far, there are no plans to do so.
“I’m concerned about it," Zimmer said. "I’m not alarmed yet."
California law requires county offices of education to oversee the Local Control and Accountability Plans for each school district. In them, superintendents outline how they'll spend extra state funds to help disadvantaged students - and their goals.
The district's budget for the new year that started this month is $7.3 billion - of which at least $837 million must be spent on foster, low-income and English learner students.
School board member Steve Zimmer should be alarmed, the allegation is that LAUSD is conflating low income/ELL/foster special needs children with special ed children, There was no legislative intent in the Local Control Funding Formula to fund special ed. No other school district in California spent their LCFF money this way.
The questions are not about this year’s budget, it’s about last year’s expenditures.
This may be money that may need to be paid back.
There were accusations that Santa Monica/Malibu USD played fast-and-loose with special ed when John Deasy was superintendent there and SMMUSD had difficulty extricating itself from that mess after he left.
And - at the risk of stating the obvious and pretending it’s news: California law requires county offices of education to oversee the budgeting and expenditure of every dime spent by each school district!