A blue-ribbon panel convened at the request of Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines has completed its six-month study of Los Angeles Unified’ s financial position, releasing a detailed report that recommends a framework for dealing with the long-term challenges facing the District.
After analyzing revenue projections and the anticipated costs of staffing, programs and business operations, the nine-member Independent Final Review Panel predicted the District will be forced to deal with deficits over the next two years. Its recommendations will be discussed by the Board of Education when it meets at 1 p.m. Tuesday.
“All large urban school systems have unique issues, but they are magnified in Los Angeles because the District must deal with these issues while laboring under California’s school financial system,” the panel wrote in its 75-page report. “Even in the current, more positive environment where revenues to education are recovering, LAUSD funding still ranks well below the levels enjoyed by large urban districts in other states.”
Chief Financial Officer Megan Reilly, who convened the panel, said its findings reflect the need to create long-term financial strategies.
“My team and I are well-aware of the financial challenges the District faces in the years ahead,” she said. “We will continue to advocate for more funding for our schools and our students as we make the prudent spending decisions to ensure the financial viability of the District.
“The board approved a balanced budget for 2015-16, and I have every expectation that we will do so for the next two fiscal years,” she said. “We have done exactly this for the last eight years.”
The panel was made up of experts in education, finance and public policy, and included such heavy-hitters as Bill Lockyer, the former California attorney general and state treasurer, and Delaine Eastin, who was elected state schools superintendent after serving eight years in the Assembly.
“This report comes at an important time, and I hope it will give the new superintendent a starting point for important discussions that will take place in our District,” said Cortines, who hopes to retire by year’s end. “If I were the incoming superintendent, this is exactly the type of report I would want to see.”