LOS ANGELES – Speaking at the L.A. Unified Board of Education meeting today, Dr. Candi Clark, the Chief Financial Officer of the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) informed the school district it was receiving conditional approval for its 2018-19 budget.
Conditional Approval means L.A. Unified is now required to provide LACOE with more information on its 2018-19 budget and fiscal stabilization plan that it passed in June 2018. The Board of Education must also pass a resolution outlining the changes needed to fully implement the plan. L.A. Unified has to meet these requirements by October 8, 2018, according to state law.
If LACOE does not approve the L.A. Unified budget or determines that a more intensive approach is necessary, there are several LACOE interventions that may ultimately result in the assignment of a fiscal advisor. A fiscal advisor has the authority to reverse decisions made by the Board of Education and put new policies in place in order to stabilize L.A. Unified’s financial situation.
Dr. Clark spoke to the dangers of L.A. Unified’s current annual deficit spending and its use of one-time monies for ongoing expenditures.
“My concerns remain the same,” she said. “The window is closing to address the fiscal situation of L.A. Unified. L.A. Unified cannot continue to go down the path of drawing down its reserves. The school district must increase revenues, decrease spending or a combination of both.”
At the August 21 Board meeting, Dr. Clark noted that L.A. Unified’s savings were extremely low and said, “This is a major concern for me and my team as we review the district’s budget considering the fact that the district is declining in enrollment, has uncapped health and welfare benefits for all staff and dependents and the fact that labor negotiations are still unsettled for 2017-18. We are carefully monitoring negotiations and we urge the district to continue to make progress towards implementing with fidelity the fiscal stabilization plan.”
“L.A. Unified is committed to providing our students with a great education and that won’t be possible if we don’t maintain the fiscal stability of our school district,” Board President Mònica García said. “The Board of Education and district leadership will work closely with the Los Angeles County Office of Education to achieve these goals.”
Each year, LACOE reviews L.A. Unified’s budget and grants either approval, conditional approval or denies approval. LACOE is currently working with L.A. Unified leadership to assess the fiscal and operational health of the school district to determine what measures are needed to stabilize the district.
The Los Angeles County Office of Education is responsible for the fiscal oversight for all of Los Angeles County school districts. It is a state-funded public agency that promotes the academic and financial stability of the county’s 80 K-12 public school districts and 2 million preschool and school-age children.