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More Districts in Fiscal Trouble

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson warned last week that 2.6 million California children now attend schools in districts that are in financial jeopardy – the highest number of financially troubled districts in state history.

“This is the kind of record no one wants to set.  Across California, parents, teachers and administrators are increasingly wondering how to keep their schools’ lights on, their bills paid and their doors open,” Torlakson said. “The deep cuts this budget crisis has forced – and the uncertainties about what lies ahead – are taking an unprecedented and unacceptable toll on our schools.”

Twice a year, the California Department of Education receives notices of interim certifications on the financial status of the state's 1,037 educational agencies.  The certifications are classified as positive, qualified or negative.

A positive certification is assigned when an agency expects to meet its financial obligations.  The Long Beach Unified School District has continued to earn such a designation through unprecedented budget cuts.  However, Long Beach’s positive certification also assumes that Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposed November tax initiative passes.

A qualified certification is assigned when an agency may not meet its financial obligations for the current or two subsequent fiscal years.  A negative certification – the most serious of the classifications – is assigned when an agency will be unable to meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current year or for the subsequent fiscal year.

A record-high 188 educational agencies are either in negative or qualified financial status.  That’s up 61 from the First Interim Status Report for 2011-12 issued in February, and up 45 from the Second Interim Report for 2010-11 issued a year ago.

The new report shows 12 agencies received negative certifications and 176 received qualified certifications.  Students in these 188 agencies represent more than 2.6 million of California’s 6.2 million students attending schools in districts with serious financial challenges, up from nearly two million students in February.