Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CDE WARNS THAT MANY SCHOOL DISTRICTS ARE IN FISCAL PERIL | O’Connell: "Massive state budget cuts are crippling our public school system's ability to operate"

Department of Education News Release


CDE Press Release: #10-31

March 22, 2010

Contact: Tina Jung
E-mail: communications@cde.ca.gov
Phone: 916-319-0818

State Schools Chief Jack O'Connell Announces Budget Crisis Leads to Dramatic Rise in School Districts on Fiscal Early Warning List

SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell today announced a 17 percent increase in the number of school districts that may be unable to meet future financial obligations because of the continuing state budget crisis and cuts to public education. The list of school districts is at First Interim Status Report, FY 2009-10 - Fiscal Status.

"Massive state budget cuts are crippling our public school system's ability to operate," O'Connell said. "Public education in California received $17 billion less in state funding than anticipated over the last two budget years. School districts already have made draconian cuts to programs and services, eliminated summer school, increased class sizes, and cut art, music, libraries, school nurses, and sports. The Governor has proposed cutting another $2.4 billion this year. Districts now are forced to lay off even more teachers and make deep cuts to educational programs to address projected budget shortfalls or face possible bankruptcy and state receivership. In the first interim status report of the 2009-10 fiscal year, 126 local educational agencies are now on the watch list, which is up an alarming 17 percent from the 108 school districts on the watch list we reported last June.

"I urge the Governor to reconsider the cuts proposed for public schools, and I also continue to call on the Governor and the Legislature to approve SCA 6 so that local communities can have more control over the financial destiny of their school districts."

California has an early warning system designed to detect which districts are in danger of failing to meet their financial obligations. Interim status reports on the fiscal health of school districts and county offices of education are prepared semi-annually. The certifications are classified as positive, qualified, or negative.

A positive certification is assigned when the district will meet its financial obligations for the current and two subsequent fiscal years. A qualified certification is assigned when the district may not meet its financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years. A negative certification is assigned when a district will be unable to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current year or for the subsequent fiscal year. In 2006-07, there were only three districts on the negative certification list and 19 on the qualified list. Today, there are 12 districts on the negative certification list and 114 districts in California with a qualified certification status.

At least 23,518 teachers and other certificated school staff in California have now received preliminary layoff notices for the coming school year. More than 16,000 teachers lost their jobs last year, and roughly 10,000 classified school employees were also laid off over the last couple years as a direct result of state budget cuts.

In light of the increased numbers of local educational agencies on the interim status lists, O'Connell is renewing his call to give local communities the ability to try to raise funds for schools locally by urging the Governor and Legislature to approve SCA 6 by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto). This measure would allow voters to elect to lower the approval threshold for parcel taxes to 55 percent, which is the approval threshold for local school bond elections.

For more information on SCA 6, please visit sca_6_bill_20090608_amended_sen_v97 [www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bill/sen/sb_0001-0050/sca_6_bill_20090608_amended_sen_v97.html] (Outside Source). For more information on the interim status list, please visit Interim Status - Fiscal Status. For the latest totals of educational personnel receiving pink slips, please visit Home - California Teachers Association [www.cta.org] (Outside Source).

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