Unless Los Angeles voters support a parcel tax in June, LAUSD will fall $749 million below the required 1 percent reserve levels during the 2021-22 school year, according to projections from LAUSD Chief Financial Officer Scott Price.
Price presented the latest incarnation of LAUSD’s required “fiscal stabilization plan” to the LAUSD Board Tuesday, which voted 4-1 to approve it. Board Member Scott Schmerelson (BD3) voted no, and George McKenna (BD1) abstained.
That plan was required by the Los Angeles County Office Of Education to show that LAUSD can balance its budget for the next three years. It includes a 15 percent reduction in central office staff at LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters and in local district offices.
One of the positions listed on the chopping block is the deputy superintendent of schools currently occupied by Vivian Ekchian. That cut alone would save $300,000. It’s unclear whether Ekchian, who served as interim superintendent before Superintendent Austin Beutner was hired, will leave the district or take another position at LAUSD.
She did not return an email seeking comment, and Senior Executive Director of Finance and Policy Pedro Salcido said LAUSD is focused on reducing budgets on specific offices by a targeted amount rather than eliminating specific individual jobs. “There are still decisions being made on central office staff and what that will look like,” Salcido said. “But as you are making reductions in offices, one of the better ways to couch it is in positions, but it doesn’t exactly mean that it will translate into elimination of a deputy superintendent.”
While cutting bureaucratic staff at LAUSD’s Beaudry headquarters, the district is planning to drive more money to school sites, where students may see benefits in reduced class sizes, more nurses, counselors and librarians – all changes that United Teachers Los Angeles pushed for in its new contract.
“We are investing in schools,” Price said. “Those are the benefits those parents will see in each of their local schools.”
The current fiscal stabilization plan and the required three-year budget forecast will take the district through the year 2020-21, and even with the plan in place, LAUSD is projected to fall $3 million below the required reserve amount in 2020-2021. But in June, LAUSD will be required to show its plan for the following school year, too, and at that point LAUSD will move deep into the red unless new revenue is found or more cuts are made.
If the Measure EE parcel tax passes, it will add an estimated $350 million a year to the bottom line of LAUSD (and some smaller amount to independent charter schools) starting next January. That would reduce some of LAUSD’s persistent financial problems. “It would change the dialogue of this district,” Price said. Read More