For the first time in its history the School Board voted unanimously to approve the District’s second Interim Financial Report with a “qualified” certification. This certification means that the District believes that it may not meet its financial obligations for the current year or the two subsequent years.
The historic vote happened on March 18. The District’s Chief Financial Officer, Janece Maez, recommended that the Board make the “qualified” certification because in her view “if we went forward and approved this with a positive certification it would be changed by the Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE).” This would happen because even though the District has developed a reduction plan to deal with its budget deficit the School Board needs more time to make the budget decisions.
Maez explained that the “qualified label would stay with the District until it adopts its budget” for the 2010-2011 academic year. She also noted that more than 120 of the 1,000 school districts in California qualified their First Interim Reports and she expects many more to qualify their Second Interim Reports. Additionally, LACOE “actually commends districts and considers them fiscally responsible by recognizing fiscal challenges through this public disclosure.” Lastly, Maez stressed this certification “doesn’t send a message that we can’t meet our obligations.”
Additional Risks To District’s Financial Stability
During her report to the Board the Chair of the District’s Financial Oversight Committee Cynthia Torres noted that there were additional risks to the district’s solvency. One is the Governor’s “May Revise Budget” which will be released on May 15 and is expected is contain additional cuts to K-12 education funding.
Another risk is the impacts of Los Angles Unified School District’s new permit policy, which seeks to reduce the number of students whose parents live in the district’s boundaries, but attend school in other districts. This could significantly reduce the amount of Average Daily Attendance revenue the district receives from its more than 1,200 inter-district permit students.
Finally, an audit revealed deficiencies in attendance reporting procedures at one of the District’s middle schools which could result in the loss all revenue from the state at this site for the 2008-2009 academic year. This finding is currently under appeal.
Revision Of District Advisory Committees Policy
Board members also approved a revised policy for its District Advisory Committees. This policy has been under review since last summer. These committees are made up of district parents, community members, and district staff. The policy states that the purpose of these committees is to “advise the Board of Education regarding school problems, needs, and issues from an objective point of view.”
The revised policy contains very few significant changes because most of the changes requested by district staff and Superintendent were not approved by the Board.
Mirror Contributing Writerhannah@smmirror.com