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School districts cautiously optimistic on finances

Posted: January 5, 2013 3:12 p.m.
Updated: January 5, 2013 3:10 p.m.

The financial outlooks for Santa Clarita’s elementary school districts remain cautiously optimistic, according to officials.

The interim financial report for the Castaic Union School District received a positive designation, but that does not mean the district is on the firmest of financial footing yet, according to district Superintendent James Gibson.

“It’s still really tight,” Gibson said. “There’s no free money or easy money.”

Gibson expressed optimism that the district was “moving in the right direction” financially, but stressed the district needs to continue to be fiscally conservative moving forward.  

“But, given everything, we’re really pleased that we’re in a position to be positive,” Gibson said.

Per state law, every local school district is required to issue a report detailing its financial standing twice a year. In this report, districts designate their fiscal outlook as positive, negative or qualified.

A positive designation means the district will be able to meet all of its financial obligations for the current fiscal year, as well as the next two fiscal years. A negative designation means just the opposite.

A qualified designation means it is uncertain if the district will be able to meet all of its financial obligations during that three-year span.

Lynn David, the assistant superintendent of business services for the Sulphur Springs School District, said the district also had a positive financial certification due to its projected ability to maintain the reserve funds mandated by the state.

But the district still faces financial uncertainty until Gov. Jerry Brown introduces his budget for the next fiscal year.

Officials also remain cautiously optimistic that Proposition 30 will inject some new money into the district.

“We’re hoping for a restoration of funding as much as possible,” David said. “But we don’t know yet.”

In the report for the Saugus Union School District, district officials estimate the district will operate on deficit spending for the current and next two fiscal years, unless reductions in spending are made.

“In order to maintain fiscal solvency, the District must make expenditure reductions in 2013-14 and further reductions in 2014-15,” the report reads.

The story was similar in the report from the Newhall School District, which also predicted spending cuts would be necessary to balance the district budget and maintain the state-mandated financial reserve in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Even potential funds from the recently passed Proposition 30 tax increases will not be enough to offset the budget problems facing many schools, according to the Los Angeles County Office of Education.

Proposition 30 will essentially maintain school funding at its current level, not inject new cash into districts, according to a report from the Office of Education.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney


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