Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Record number of school districts in state face bankruptcy

Pummeled by relentless budget cuts, a record number of California school districts are facing bankruptcy, state Supt. of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced Monday.

The Inglewood Unified School District and 11 others -– most in northern California -- are currently not able to pay their bills this school year or next, according to a biannual report on the financial health of the state’s 1,037 school systems compiled by the state Department of Education. An additional 176 school districts may not be able to meet their financial obligations.

All told, the financially troubled districts serve 2.6 million children. And the picture could dramatically worsen if initiatives to raise taxes for public schools by Gov. Jerry Brown and others fail to pass in November, officials said.

“This is the kind of record no one wants to set,” Torlakson said in a statement. “The deep cuts this budget has forced -– and the uncertainties about what lies ahead -– are taking an unprecedented and unacceptable toll on our schools.”

Education officials blame much of the crisis on a double blow by the state: budget cuts amounting to 20% over the last three years and the deferment of millions of dollars owed to schools but not dispersed until months later. Read More