For the second year in a row, the Galt Joint Union High School District has landed on the state Department of Education list of financial distress. The placement can be a precursor to a district having its finances taken over by the county Office of Education.
It’s a growing trend as more California districts cope with declines in local and state revenue, according to State Superintendent Tom Torlakson.
There are no San Joaquin County schools on this year’s list.
Seven districts were listed as being in imminent fiscal danger. A second list is comprised of 120 districts, including the Galt high school district, that may face grave fiscal problems based on current projections.
If certain financial mandates are not met, the county Department of Education could step in and take over the financial operations of the district.
Last summer, Galt was successfully removed from the state list after officials showed they had enough money to meet financial obligations for two of three years in their projected budgets.
The district has estimated a $1.9 million shortfall next school year. Among the issues facing the district in 2012-13 are automatic pay increases already approved in union contracts and paying for teaching positions funded this year by one-time federal money, according to Chief Finance Officer Audrey Kilpatrick.
To address the budget deficit, the board may be asked to cut home-to-school transportation. The service currently costs $500,000 and is not required.
Other options could include a salary freeze, further reducing school site and district operational budgets, or eliminating funding contributions to specific programs, including the adult school.
The district already reduced funding to continuing education by $40,000 this school year.
The district serves approximately 2,300 students in two comprehensive high schools, one continuation high school and an adult school.
Teachers’ union president Alex Bauer said many of the proposed cuts year after year never come to fruition, all while the district’s reserves have grown. “It doesn’t seem like it’s computing to me,” he said.
The California Department of Education receives interim status reports twice a year on the financial status of the state’s 1,037 local educational agencies. A second report will be released later this year.
The latest of the semi-annual listings, released Thursday, reveals that a third of the state’s 6 million K-12 students are attending schools in 127 districts rated as in danger of being unable to meet their financial obligations, 17 more than made the list a year earlier.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.