School districts with 2.6 million of the state's 6 million K-12 students are in "financial jeopardy," state schools Supt. Tom Torlakson declared Monday, including 12 so troubled that they are virtually insolvent.
Although the 188 districts rated either negatively - unable to meet their obligations - or "qualified" are just a fraction of the state's 1,037 districts, county offices of education and other "local educational agencies," they included some of the state's largest, including huge Los Angeles Unified, and therefore a major chunk of the student population.
"This is the kind of record no one wants to set," Torlakson said in a statement. "Across California, parents, teachers, and administrators are increasingly wondering how to keep their schools' lights on, their bills paid, and their doors open. The deep cuts this budget crisis has forced - and the uncertainties about what lies ahead - are taking an unprecedented and unacceptable toll on our schools."
The Department of Education's report was issued as the Legislature began perusing Gov. Jerry Brown's revised 2012-13 budget that calls for reconfiguring how state aid to schools is distributed and proposes major cuts in state aid should his sales and income tax package be rejected by voters in November.
Most school districts appear to be planning for a worst case scenario by keying their own 2012-13 budgets to an assumption that taxes do not pass, leading to massive layoff notices for teachers and other school employees.
The largest school district in Torlakson's negative list appears to be Vallejo Unified, but a number of large districts are on the qualified list, which denotes financial problems, including LA Unified, San Diego Unified, Oakland Unified, Elk Grove Unified, Sacramento City Unified and San Juan Unified.