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Explaining Nuances of School District Funding

March 30, 2003

Re "Is School Funding a Struggle or a Scam?" (Letters, March 16):

The author presented as fact that the Irvine Unified School District has more than $50 million in County Fund 694 and therefore should not be asking for additional revenue.

The truth is, that particular fund was established in 1995 by the county treasurer for cities and school districts to deal with the Orange County bankruptcy. Further, this fund was empty and was closed Nov. 1, 2001.

What is true is that most school districts, including Irvine's, have significant money in various county treasury accounts. For Irvine, this includes the operating funds that will pay this month's bills and next month's payroll.

The county treasury also holds the district's unspent restricted funds and serves as the bank for other substantial dollars that are held for specific purposes.

Included among these are funds designated for cafeteria operation, maintenance and insurance reserves.

One of the most challenging concepts for an observer to understand is the legal requirements that prevent money designated for one purpose from being used for another. Yet the legal restrictions on these various funds provide the answer to the perennial question as to how the district can build facilities while having to make cuts in the operational budget.

In the current budget crisis, it is again the money received from the state for day-to-day operations that is being reduced.

Dean Waldfogel

Superintendent,

Irvine Unified School District

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