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More California school districts edging closer to insolvency, state says

An immediate effect has been increased teacher layoffs. Fourteen districts in the state are classified as in especially dire condition, including Lynwood Unified School District in Los Angeles County.

June 30, 2010|By Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times

An increasing number of California school districts are edging closer to financial insolvency, state officials reported Tuesday.

One immediate effect has been teacher layoffs — probably in the thousands, although neither state officials nor the California Teachers Assn. have final numbers.

Since the beginning of 2010, the number of school systems that may be "unable to meet future financial obligations" has increased by 38%, according to the state Department of Education.

"Schools on this list are now forced to make terrible decisions to cut programs and services that students need or face bankruptcy," said state Supt. of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell.

Of the state's 1,077 school districts, 14 are classified as in especially dire condition. They are unlikely to avoid bankruptcy based on their current approved budgets. L.A. County has one such system, the Lynwood Unified School District, officials said. Other districts in this category include Hayward Unified in Alameda County, Vallejo City Unified in Solano County and Natomas Unified in Sacramento County.

An additional 160 school systems have a "qualified" financial outlook, meaning that they are at risk although probably not in danger of immediate bankruptcy. L.A. County districts in that situation include L.A. Unified, Burbank Unified, Culver City Unified, Glendale Unified, Inglewood Unified, Montebello Unified, Norwalk- La Mirada Unified, Pomona Unified, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified and South Pasadena Unified.

About 26,000 teachers were notified in March that they might be laid off, according to data collected by the California Teachers Assn. At least 9,000 of those notices have been rescinded so far. Last year also brought teacher layoffs, leading to a decline of about 15,000 in the union's membership. The state has about 300,000 teachers.

Non-teaching employees also have been hit hard. Thousands have lost jobs in Los Angeles Unified alone. Many of those still working have experienced pay cuts, while students have to deal with larger classes, a shorter school year and decreased services.

The education portion of the current budget proposal by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger could result in additional layoffs, although other sectors of governments have faced even steeper cuts.

howard.blume@latimes.com

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