District’s fiscal solvency at risk

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “I think everybody now knows that we’re in bad shape, but we’ve been through this before,’ Greer said. “Never this bad, but we’ll make it out. (The county letter) sounded really overwhelmingly bad, but truly, it’s just another adjustment in a critical budget year for us.’ In their letter, however, county officials also expressed concern about the district’s historical trend of deficit spending. “Because the district has not addressed the ongoing structural imbalances in its budgets, (its) one-time source of unrestricted funds derived from a previous sale of surplus property was gradually exhausted,’ the letter said. “As a result, the district is now facing serious fund balance and reserve shortfalls that threaten its fiscal solvency.’ While officials in other cash- strapped districts would likely begin readying the budget ax, Lowell Joint’s interim Superintendent Ronald Randolph said the district will instead seek out more funding sources. WHITTIER — The Lowell Joint School District has little more than a month to come up with a fiscal recovery plan to address a nearly $1.3 million shortfall in this year’s budget that was brought to light by the county Office of Education. In a letter to school board President Cathleen Greer, county education officials rejected the Lowell Joint district’s 2005-06 revised budget, saying the spending plan overstated the district’s income in various areas and showed negative balances in restricted programs. Funding for restricted programs cannot be carried over from one year to the next. Now the district must backfill restricted programs with money from its unrestricted general fund in order to get those budgets to balance out. But when that happens, the district will not have enough left in its unrestricted general fund to meet the state’s mandated 3- percent budget reserve. County officials project that if the budget stays as is, the district’s reserve levels will fall to minus 2.73 percent this year, minus 1.28 percent in 2006-07 and minus 0 .02 percent in 2007-08. “There are few places you can cut (in the current budget year). You can’t cut people, because they’re on yearly contracts,’ Randolph said. “You can cut other employees who only need 45 days’ notice, but we’ve already done that cutting. “So our first look to address the county’s concerns is to analyze any other sources of income that would eliminate the deficit for this year,’ he added. “And then we would address the next year with the appropriate cuts.’ The district now must submit a fiscal recovery and budget reduction plan for restoring the 3- percent reserve over the next three years. Randolph said he will present the plan to the school board for approval at its Oct. 24 meeting. Greer said one possible funding source is parents, several of whom have approached her and said they would pay a $95-a- year parcel tax supported by the district earlier this year but rejected by voters at the polls. “It looks like the community is rallying around the district, and as a board member, I’m very heartened by that,’ Greer said. @tagline columnist:Tracy Garcia can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3051, or by e-mail at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more