The California Department of Education has released a list of 126 school districts that may have trouble meeting their fiscal obligations in the coming months. The list shows a sharp jump in the number of districts facing fiscal worries statewide.
"Massive state budget cuts are crippling our public school system's ability to operate," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. “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. 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.”
Once a school district declares bankruptcy, the state assigns a management team to take over operations until the district is solvent again.
The 126 local educational agencies now on the watch list represent an increase of 104 districts since 2006-07.
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 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.
The Board of Education in the Long Beach Unified School District approved a positive certification recently, meaning it will continue to meet its fiscal obligations.
A list of districts on the watch list is available.